If there’s one thing employees at Instacart have in common, it’s that they love to eat. In fact, the fast-growing online grocer is “anchored around the culture of food, family, and nourishment,” says Marta Riggins, Director of Employer Brand and Employee Engagement.
Riggins, who joined the company in 2019 after stints at LinkedIn and Pandora, juggles a lot of responsibilities. But perhaps the most rewarding part of her job is leading the charge on Instacart’s social impact initiatives, namely raising awareness about food insecurity—a household’s inability to provide enough food for every person to live an active, healthy life.
“Food is not just a utility, but—as our partner Rowena Norman from Feeding America says—‘food is love.’ And we couldn’t agree more,” Riggins says. “Food insecurity is an issue that affects 37 million people in the U.S. Through our efforts, we aim to make people’s lives better by doing what we do best: putting food on the table.”
Here, Riggins shares more about Instacart’s social impact work, what attracted her to the company, and the best career advice she’s ever received.
Tell us about your career journey and what led you to your job at Instacart.
Over the course of my 15-year career, I’ve worked in marketing, human resources, and strategic partnerships across entertainment and tech. I like to say that I got my real-world MBA by getting my start in the entertainment industry’s school of hard knocks. I started my career as an assistant to talent agents, which taught me ruthless prioritization and the long-lost art of relationship and rapport building.
I’m a marketer by trade and have done every type of marketing you can imagine (digital, social, content, marcomms, experiential, and event). By chance, I discovered that my marketing skill sets could help support and amplify the People & Talent functions in a company. While at Pandora, I transitioned from leading an event marketing team to building a new function focused on what was then called recruitment marketing, or marketing the company to help attract candidates.
At the time, my friends in marketing thought I was nuts and didn’t understand what I was doing, so I came up with the phrase “B2E marketing,” or business to employee/future employee marketing, and it clicked. Eventually, this line of work became a category called “employer brand,” and my role expanded to include employee engagement and giving for the company. I have the pleasure of building out and leading this same function at Instacart.
What are you responsible for in your role at Instacart?
I have the distinguished pleasure of leading the small but mighty Employer Brand and Engagement Team, which works to help define Instacart as a top employer of choice and an excellent place to work. We do this through internal and external storytelling, plus internal programs and initiatives. We are also responsible for driving recruitment marketing strategy, internal communications, engagement and inclusion strategy, and social impact.
What attracted you to work at Instacart?
I was super-excited that a company of Instacart’s size wanted to invest in this type of work so early. The leaders of the company also really understood that without a cultural competitive advantage, it would be nearly impossible to attract and engage employees. I was given the opportunity to help define and build an employer brand, as well as an engagement and social impact program framed around food, family, and nourishment. I love to cook and eat, and the chance to build a brand around a universally diverse and connected medium like food seemed like a dream. Plus, I’ve been an Instacart user for five years, and it’s saved me time as a busy working mom.
What does a normal day in your job look like?
Every day is completely different and I’m constantly chipping away at work that touches employer brand, engagement, and social impact. In one day, I might edit a blog post, brainstorm ideas for recruiting videos, meet with ERGs [employee resource groups], and plan a volunteerism event for employees. There’s never a dull moment!
What do you like best about the company culture at Instacart?
I really like the people. Everyone comes from different backgrounds and industries (including tech, retail, and customer service) and shares a love of food and the special place it holds in people’s lives. Just yesterday, an engineer who is an incredible cook brought a cup of homemade eggnog to my desk, complete with freshly shaved nutmeg. There is a very neighborly and thoughtful ethos to the employees here. We often like to say that we are like a potluck: Everyone brings something new, different, and flavorful to the table.
Tell us about Instacart’s most important social good initiative and what the company does to support the cause.
Our social good efforts are centered around helping end food insecurity, which is a household’s inability to provide enough food for every person to live an active, healthy life. Our program is called Instacart Serves, which works to nourish our communities by helping to remove barriers to food access and enrich the lives of vulnerable populations through employee volunteerism, grocery donations, and awareness campaigns. We also have a national partnership with Feeding America, which has a network of 200-plus food banks that feed millions of people at risk of hunger, including children and seniors. Their scale allows us to make a change and provide support in a significant way that also aligns with the communities in which we work and live.
How can employees participate?
Employees can get involved in a number of ways, from participating in food drives and pantry stocking during cultural heritage months to our company-wide Week of Service. During this year’s Week of Service, we logged more than 1,500 volunteer hours, sorted more than 210 pounds of food, and donated an additional 400,000 meals.
What are other ways that Instacart gives back?
In 2018 and 2019, we donated groceries to firehouses and evacuation centers affected by wildfires in California. We also donated groceries to local drop-in centers and pantries that support the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month and Thanksgiving, since 40% of all young people experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ+.
What are you working on right now that excites or inspires you?
The more I’ve been partnering with Feeding America and learning about how food insecurity truly is an identity issue that disproportionately affects diverse communities, the more I’m motivated to help shine a spotlight on this issue and drive impact.
What is the hardest part about your job and how have you overcome it?
There is so much opportunity to drive impact across our three verticals—employer brand, engagement, and social impact—that it’s almost overwhelming. Our team does an exercise called Mindfulness Mondays, where we write down our goals for the week and reframe our time to align with those goals. This helps my team and me refocus our energy and efforts and drive a larger impact.
What qualities does Instacart look for in talent?
People who are humble, inventive, ambitious but also realistic, collaborative—and also eaters.
How does the company support a diverse and inclusive culture?
Food has this incredible power to unite, comfort, create conversations, strengthen bonds, remove barriers, honor cherished traditions, and, most important, bring people together. Together, we aim to build and foster an environment where people can bring their authentic selves to work, and no matter what you bring to the potluck, there is a seat for you at the table.
We have five active ERGs—Women@, Parents@, Nightshades (Black Employee Group), Rainbow Carrots (LGBTQ+), and Sazón (LatinX). We partner with these groups to celebrate cultural heritage during Black History Month, Women’s History Month, International Women’s Day, Bring Your Kid to Work Day, Pride & Trans Awareness Week, and LatinX month. This includes kickoffs with ERG leaders at our company all-hands meeting, learning and development workshops, guest speakers, service projects, and happy hours.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
A former manager gave me the best advice. Anytime I felt unsure or nervous heading into a big presentation or public speaking event, she would tell me to ask myself, “Why not you?” And every time I ask it, I can never come up with any reasons why not me. I’ve found it’s tremendously helpful for pushing past pesky imposter syndrome, which pops up every now and again.