How Jeneeta O’Connor builds community at work — and beyond


To find community in a new place, Jeneeta O’Connor dives right in. There’s no point in having a toe in the water, she says.

When Jeneeta joined Elastic® in 2023, that’s exactly what she did. She created a list of people she wanted to reach out to and became a member of an ERG right away. She also signed up for the coffee connects facilitated by Slack’s Donut plug in. 

In previous roles, she found success meeting co-workers for coffee, and going to events where she could network. Since taking these intentional steps to find connection worked well before, she took the same approach at Elastic to develop her own sense of community.

“I wanted to immediately get embedded in the culture,” Jeneeta says.

Jeneeta has always been purposeful about building connections and broadening her reach, something she attributes to being an extrovert, but also to balance out her work. 

She joined Elastic as Corporate Counsel and has since been promoted to Senior Corporate Counsel, where she’s currently leading Elastic’s business integrity program development and implementation. This includes translating through policy, training, and education, the laws and regulations that apply Elastic’s business , she says. 

“I love the work that I do, but it's also important for me to find balance in my overall experience at Elastic,” she says. 

Jeneeta tunes in for the events Blasticians puts on and joins the members' meetings, but she also engages with members separately to see where she can support.

“I immediately wanted to join the Blasticians ERG so I could meet people who would be able to share in and understand my experience navigating the workplace as a person of color,” she says. “I've had the opportunity to participate in employee resource groups at other organizations and look forward to sharing some of the learnings I've gained from those experiences to help further the work we are doing here with our ERGs.”

To find her community, Jeneeta makes it a point to show up as herself. 

“I believe you attract what you put out and if I want to find my community of people — those I can fully and genuinely connect with — then I have to show up authentically,” she says. 

Jeneeta resonated with the Come As, YOU, are Source Code tenet right away.

“Being able to show up authentically is crucial for me,” she says. “It frees me from having to divert energy and brain power to become a smaller, less flavorful version of myself, and frees me up to use those differences, those superpowers, to think creatively, work passionately, advocate enthusiastically, and connect more fully with my work and with the people around me.”

But for Jeneeta, showing us as her full self wasn’t always encouraged — or didn’t seem possible.

Black women only make up 2% of lawyers in the US. Jeneeta recalls feeling restricted to an archetype for lawyers that did not resonate with the way she saw herself. 

“It was draining, it was unfulfilling, and I struggled to feel seen or like I belonged,” she says. 

Now, she’s adamant about being herself because that’s when she’s at her best.

When considering job opportunities, and thinking about what was important to her from a future employer, one non-negotiable for Jeneeta was not having the freedom and support to be herself. That was something that Elastic offered, which is a big part of why she joined the company.

“I have to be me,” she says.

“I talk with my hands, I am enthusiastic, I am not ‘too cool for school’,” Jeneeta says. “I think it’s important to be honest with the people I work with about my thoughts and feelings — essentially who I am and where I am coming from. We need that foundation to be able to build trust and effectively work, grow, and overcome challenges together.”

“That’s part of why I like being here,” she says. “It hasn’t always been like that throughout my career — I greatly value having this experience here at Elastic.”

Jeneeta wants others to find their communities, too — at work and beyond. To do that, she recommends first being intentional about building connections with people and to show up as who you are. 

It’s hard to make connections when you’re not really you (or don’t feel safe to do so),” she says. “You have to be courageous and lead with humor and humility.”

“Acknowledging that it's not easy to do, I think you have to be intentional about showing up from a place of honesty and authenticity from the very beginning,” she says. “To be successful and enjoy where you work, you do want their values to match your own.”

It starts from the first conversation, she says. Jeneeta had an honest conversation with her would-be manager and articulated what she wanted from her work experience. That first conversation and the subsequent discussions set the stage for a positive and collaborative work experience.

“Trust your gut. Does this feel like a place where you're going to be celebrated and included?”

“Community and connection has been how we bolster the work we do here, but community is more than just work. It’s critical to a productive, happy, and successful work experience.”

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