March is Women’s History Month. And while we don’t need an occasion to tell us how vital women are to the workforce, this month is a great opportunity to celebrate how far women have come, their contribution to society, as well as paving the path to success for future generations.
In order to capture the impact of women in the workplace, we went to the best source we could find: our own colleagues. We asked TriNet women from across the organization and across the nation to share with us their thoughts on being a female professional and all that entails—from building and nurturing relationships, to seizing opportunities for leadership and development, to balancing their lives outside of work.
They shared with us their stories of overcoming challenges, charting new courses, finding inspiration and professional growth. We are pleased to honor these women—and all women who are making a difference—this month and every day.
I think, from time to time, many women struggle with questions such as “what is my purpose?” or “what impact do I have?” Anyone who knows me knows that I am, overall, a very positive person—some may even call me “bubbly.” But I too have often wondered about my purpose in life, outside of being a mom, or another colleague at TriNet. I sometimes wonder, “what do I really bring to the table?” The pivotal answer to this question came to me recently when someone told me about a challenging situation they were facing in which they responded positively and effectively by “channeling their inner Sabine.”
As funny as it sounds, this made me realize that my purpose here is to be “sunshine” in people’s lives. Whether it is helping them find resolutions to tough questions, comforting someone who is struggling or even providing a teaching moment, I do it with joy and that makes a difference in the lives I come into contact with each day. We all bring something to the table, even if we do not always see it or realize the impact we’re having.
Senior Benefits Consultant
Thinking back on my career, I’m fortunate to say I have had that single defining moment where my career path changed. In 2005, I was working as the risk manager for a large national retailer. Hurricane Katrina brought catastrophic damage to the Southeast, impacting 18 of our stores. In the thick of the storm’s aftermath, I found myself standing at the head of a board room table, explaining to a bunch of executives what would eventually become the company’s single largest insurance claim in its 125-year history. Entire stores were destroyed, inventory lost and, most significantly, many employees suffered from both home loss and temporarily being out of work while we fixed the damage.
My main job was to minimize the financial loss to the company by returning us to business as usual as quickly as possible and aiming to do so under a single insurance claim. I could have put my head down and “done my job” but I decided to step outside of my “insurance and risk” comfort zone to advise the executives on what really mattered—the people whose lives were affected by the hurricane. Instead of just focusing on our bottom line, I made recommendations to aid the needs of the recovering community, including changing the products we sold in our stores.
Our store sales recovered and even beat expectations. I was also able to settle our claim through negotiation with our insurance carrier. Ten months later, I found myself back at the board room table—not as the company’s risk manager but as a trusted advisor. Moving forward, I had a seat at the table for all strategic discussions regarding company initiatives.
Executive Director, Workers’ Compensation Claims & Products
I once read an article that stated men are likely to apply for a role when they meet about 60% of the job requirements, versus a woman who seeks to meet closer to 100% of the job requirements before applying for the same position. My first HR generalist role following several Internships was one I knew would be a jump in terms of HR best practice and compliance knowledge but I decided to still take the leap and apply. As a 23 year-old professional, ready to make an impact, I sat in a room with individuals with much more experience than I had and sold my resourcefulness and passion. I realized, upon receiving the job offer, that I wasn’t any less qualified for the role; I was just differently qualified. I love being one of the confident women proving the statistic I read so many years ago wrong; embracing the experiences that make me differently but equally equipped to take on that next big step or opportunity!
Senior Human Resources Consultant
I started my HR career more than 20 years ago in the male-dominated offshore drilling industry in Houston. One of my most memorable early experiences was boarding a helicopter bound for a tall offshore oil rig in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. I was the only female on the rig for about 10 hours preparing entry-level employees to take the Able-Bodied Seaman certification test, as was required at the time. I didn’t tell anyone that I was afraid of heights, extremely claustrophobic and couldn’t swim—all fears I had to face during that long day on that rig.
However, I seized the opportunity and faced my fears because the vice president of HR had given me this opportunity and I knew it would be a good step in my career. Plus, I wanted to prove that I belonged on that rig with the rest of the team. Since then, I have taken additional calculated risks to grow both personally and professionally. Recently, a member of my team told me that they admired my grit and I realized that a hallmark of my success is that I keep showing up, even when it’s difficult to do so. As women, the only people we must compete with is who we were yesterday.
Director, Human Capital Services
In her book, “Knowing Your Value: Women, Money and Getting what You’re Worth,” Mika Brzezinski says “Knowing your value means owning your success. Owning your success means acknowledging your achievements. By acknowledging achievements, you build confidence.” Women have a hard time acknowledging their own value and, while I am no exception, I make it my daily mission to not only cheer for my own successes but the successes of those around me. It’s easy to denigrate, diminish and demoralize yourself and others. Acknowledging the talent that you are lucky enough to work with can be harder but far more rewarding. I am so fortunate to work with and for strong, talented, confident women.
Analyst, Benefits Compliance
As a career mom, I sometimes had to be selective as to the school events I attended. On one occasion, I was driving a group of my eight-year-old daughter’s classmates on a school field trip. You hear the best conversations when you’re the chauffeur and the kids were talking about how involved their moms were with volunteering in their classrooms. In the rearview mirror, I could see that my daughter was listening intently to the other kids as they bragged about their moms’ various school activities. As their conversation settled, my daughter piped up and said, “My mommy works, she has a big job. That’s what I want to do too.”
I couldn’t have been prouder to hear the confidence in her voice. For me, the work/life balance comes from loving what I do and sharing that happiness with my family. When I’m with my kids, I am fully engaged with them. When I am away at work, I appreciate the chance to make a difference on the job. I have learned that if you love what you do and are happy, your family will see it and be happy too.
Vice President, Nonprofit
I came to the realization that I did not have just one pivotal moment as a woman in my career. Everything that I have become today is attributed to many people and events, which became pivotal through their collective nature. These events are defined by the talented people I have the pleasure of working with every day. The supportive relationships that I have established throughout the years with both men and women have shaped my personal and professional successes. These amazing individuals guide, coach and inspire from the heart. Not only have these collaborations pushed me to be the very best version of myself but they also have reminded me of how fortunate I am to do what I love with people I love.
Executive Director, Sales Automation
The pivotal moment in my career was 23 years ago when my husband was forced to retire from his job at IBM at the age of 38 due to long-term effects from a car accident four years prior. I had been working part-time from home as an IT consultant and focused on being a mom when my husband and I reversed roles. He became the primary caregiver of our young son while I went back into the workforce full-time, starting with a short-term contract for a professional employer organization that morphed into a permanent position. I earned Employee of the Year in 2009 and was with that company for many years until it was acquired by TriNet in 2012. Working full-time with a partially disabled husband forced me to find the right balance between work and home as there were challenges in both places that took me out of my comfort zone. I found that I enjoyed learning new things and taking on home projects, especially if they involved power tools. I've laid tile, replaced counter tops, replaced interior doors, refinished cabinets, split firewood and still found time to be a mom to my son and a host mom to four foreign exchange students. I have a great sense of accomplishment in both my home and professional lives and am confident I can handle anything the future brings.
Tier II IT Manager
I believe, as women, our passion drives success in whatever we do. Due to the many hats that women wear, success can have a broad definition and can even change through the course of a woman’s life.
Along the way, we receive feedback from many sources; how we choose to use this feedback determines the next step in our journey. There were three women at the beginning of my career who mentored me to follow my heart in all I do. They taught me that success was a result of living your passion and finding balance. Throughout my career I have been fortunate to have countless women who have inspired and mentored me as I continued my journey. Today, I focus on the positive and accept feedback as a gift. Every day brings with it the promise of new opportunities on my own path to success and the chance to help other women on their own journeys.
Manager, HR Content Design and Strategy
In my opinion, a woman’s passion, strength and success comes from the footprint of people who have influenced her. Like many other women I know, I grew up thinking that the male in the family had to be successful at being the family’s financial provider. With more women getting an education and joining the workforce, the role for some families has shifted direction. Nowadays, so many women are the family’s financial provider, including myself. I can always count on my tribe of other working women when I need them, which has an influence on my success. When women stand together, we are strong and can achieve great things.
Senior Product Manager