Career Stories

How This HR Leader Is Making the Veterinary Industry a More Inclusive Place

Tiffany King, the Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Director at Banfield Pet Hospital
Tiffany King, the Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Director at Banfield Pet Hospital

From the time she began her professional life, Tiffany King had one goal in mind: to make a difference. “I always knew I wanted to be in a career with a purpose,” says King, who thought about pursuing employment law but ultimately decided to work in human resources. In 2018, after time at Starbucks and Apple, she landed at Banfield Pet Hospital (which operates veterinary clinics in 42 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico)—and in March 2020 was promoted to the role of Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Director. 

Here, King shares what she loves about Banfield Pet Hospital, how she’s helping make the company a more inclusive place, and the best career advice she’s ever received.

Tell us about your career journey, and what led you to your job at Banfield Pet Hospital.

I started as a recruiter and within a few years, I transitioned into an HR generalist position at Starbucks and began to expand my knowledge in organizational development and effectiveness. From there, I worked at Apple, where I was promoted to manager and director roles overseeing HR and recruiting teams for part of the U.S. and Canada. In these roles I learned how to develop and execute strategy and played an integral part in reimagining our HR infrastructures.

Throughout my career, I was always fortunate to lead transformational work, and at Apple, I transitioned into a position in inclusion and diversity, leading external programs and launching an innovative partnership to attract students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) into STEM positions. Creating opportunities for students to realize their full potential was the most rewarding work of my career. When I joined Banfield in 2018 as a regional HR director in the Northeast, I could not have imagined my path would come full circle and I would again be leading such meaningful work in inclusion and diversity.

What attracted you to work at Banfield Pet Hospital?

I have been fortunate to work in progressive, innovative growth organizations such as Starbucks and Apple. Banfield was on the same trajectory, and this is what excited me to pursue an opportunity here. As I interviewed and learned more about our culture, the veterinary industry, and the incredible people in our hospitals that passionately serve our clients and pets, I knew this is where I belonged. I believe there is something very different about the veterinary industry, where we have an opportunity to help our clients better understand how together we can lead the future of pet care and achieve our purpose: a better world for pets.

You recently took on the new role of Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Director. What are you responsible for in this position? And how do you think this role will help transform the company?

I am responsible for ensuring our equity, inclusion, and diversity (EI&D) vision is manifested in every aspect of our business—from our associates to our clients and the pets we serve. I lead strategies to create a more inclusive culture where people want to start their career here, and stay and grow because they feel a sense of belonging and value. I am an ambassador of the culture.

I am also responsible for building and maintaining strong internal and external alliances to help realize our vision and mission. Having a dedicated role leading this work will allow us to expand our EI&D strategies at a greater scale with more rigor, and this is important for the future growth of our practice and the contributions we will make to veterinary medicine.

What are some goals and benchmarks you’re hoping to accomplish in your new role?

We are currently looking at ways we can impact and help increase racial equity in the veterinary industry through our hiring and development practices. We understand there are systemic challenges within the industry. However, we believe in leveraging our size and scale as the largest general veterinary practice in the U.S. to help create a new path forward by opening doors and creating more opportunities for people of color.

We are strengthening our relationships with diverse veterinary associations, colleges, and universities to create greater synergies that will allow us to build pathways for jobs. We are also developing mentorship opportunities to help our veterinary students and professionals expand their knowledge and grow their careers. We are committed to hiring and growing talent that represents the communities we serve for our future.

What are you working on right now that excites or inspires you?

I am excited about all the work we have going on right now in EI&D, but I’ll highlight a couple of things. Over the last few weeks, our diversity resource groups have been hosting powerful conversations with our associates across the practice in response to the racial inequality and unrest fueled by the untimely deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others. These conversations have been incredibly enlightening and emotional. They have provided a space for our associates to be vulnerable and learn from each other. These conversations helped us to better understand what is important to them, and how we can support our associates through these times of uncertainty in much more meaningful ways. There has been an incredible call to action, and we are responding.

I am so excited to be partnering with our Mars Veterinary Health sister family of brands to launch an EI&D council. [Editor’s note: Banfield Pet Hospital is a division of Mars, Inc.] We have associates from each of our sister practices. Together, we will design and implement EI&D strategies that are essential to the future growth of the vet health segment.

What do you look for in candidates at Banfield Pet Hospital?

We look for people who are passionate about serving others—their fellow associates, our clients, our pets, and our communities—as well as those who will bring their true authentic selves to work every day. We also look for people who value our culture and our Five Principles—responsibility, quality, mutuality, efficiency, and freedom—because these are at the core of everything we do.

What employee benefits help set Banfield Pet Hospital apart from other companies?

I am so proud to work for an organization that puts the health and well-being of its people first. Banfield offers a unique set of programs, tools, benefits, and services that address our associates’ mental, emotional, and physical safety and well-being—from “ASK–Assess, Support, Know,” our first-of-its-kind suicide prevention training designed specifically for veterinary professionals, to our Student Debt Relief Program.

Many don’t realize that veterinarians have some of the highest rates of student debt—and debt-to-income ratio—with the American Veterinary Medical Association estimating the average debt of most veterinary college graduates with student loans is more than $180,000. Our Student Debt Relief Program was designed to help relieve some of this burden and promote the financial health and well-being of our associates. Since the launch of the program in December 2017, we have contributed more than $8 million toward helping our veterinarians pay off their student loans and enabled nearly $14 million in educational debt refinancing for our associates.

What do you like best about the company culture at Banfield Pet Hospital?

I really like the fact that we are grounded in the Five Principles of Mars. The two that stand out to me the most are “mutuality” and “freedom.” Mutuality is about treating each other with dignity and respect, and valuing the unique attributes we all bring to the table to benefit each other and our organization. Freedom allows us the ability to thrive and build a sustainable future.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

I had a mentor early in my career as an HR generalist. When working on a project together, she told me, “Not only should you always take a seat at the table, but make sure you have something meaningful to say. Always add value.” This has traveled with me throughout my career, and that was almost 20 years ago!