Every VLCM member should have the word vegan mentioned somewhere in their LinkedIn profile. Why? First, if we want to normalize veganism in the corporate world, people need to see and hear the word associated with bosses, colleagues and clients they respect. Second, it provides an important subtle statistic on the internet. Think about other unknown—or aspiring—vegans in your circle of influence who may be searching Google for other vegans today.
The LinkedIn design overhaul in early 2017 streamlined user profiles, and as part of it, it got rid of certain sections. (Also, the free searching options were significantly scaled down.) Most importantly, the former Interests section—where most professionals would previously list the vegan interest—no longer exists. So what the best new professionally- appropriate way to identify as vegan on LinkedIn?
The new options are to use the Volunteer Experience section (if applicable) or even the profile intro.
If you are a corporate professional, you probably agree it’s not best to shout out your veganism. For example I wouldn’t recommend putting “vegan”, “animal advocate”, “plant-based” or so in your profile headline. That one should remain business-like and so should the first part of your profile.
Why? Lots of professionals (and employers, recruiters and clients!) still view veganism as radical, abnormal, annoying etc. Think about it this way. Consider something (lifestyle, religion, cultural traditions, looks) that to you personally still doesn’t sit right in others. (We all have those biases.) Now imagine seeing a profile of such person—what ways of advertising their “unusual” identity would feel acceptable and not hurt their professional credibility in your eyes? The same principle applies for revealing of our vegan identity on professional websites like LinkedIn.
Some people can pull off putting the (V) symbol as part of their name. If you think you can get away with it, by all means do it. For others, I believe it’s best to acknowledge your vegan interest in a matter-of-fact, achievement-focused manner, as an afterthought. For example, in my profile intro I first highlight my professional credentials and achievements, then mention that in my free time I am passionate about such and such, and I have founded Vegan Leaders in Corporate Management (VLCM). I don’t get into the ethical argument or the benefits—as I don’t think that’s the time or place.
If you are uncomfortable with mentioning veganism in your professional profile, and if you don’t have a fitting matter-of-fact way (such as a Volunteering Experience) to insert the word, then you should at least make sure you have the VLCM group membership mentioned in the new, structured Interests section which appears at the very bottom of your profile (it includes the influencers that you follow as well as the companies, schools and groups you belong to. The Groups portion of the section is not displayed by default but can be visible by clicking on “View All”.
Having your VLCM affiliation mentioned in your profile has another major benefit: LinkedIn can pick up on a shared Interest with people in your LinkedIn network. For example, you might find out your colleague or client is also a vegan and a member of our group.