Celebrating Business Women’s Week:
National Business Women’s Week, celebrated the third week of October, and is a perfect time to honor the countless contributions of women in the world of business. This week serves as a reminder of the importance of gender equality, diversity, and inclusivity in the workplace. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women in business and to inspire others to pursue their own entrepreneurial dreams.
Today, we are excited to shine a spotlight on remarkable women in business. We had the privilege of sitting down with them and delving into their inspiring journeys within the business world. It is with great pride and enthusiasm that we introduce you to Chaienne M., our exceptional Automation Marketing Manager, and Carianne R., the latest addition to the Loyal Source family, bringing her expertise to the role of Director of Human Resources.
Can you tell us about your journey into the business world? What inspired you to pursue a career in your industry?
The interesting thing about that is that I honestly didn’t necessarily ‘plan’ to journey into the business world. I initially got my start in education first as a coach and then subsequently transitioned into early childhood education. The ‘business world’ found me when I was in search of ‘something different’ but not having a true pulse on what that was. This brought me to my first professional pivot, which brought me into the staffing industry, most specifically in Staffing Technology.
The availability of marketing automation as a whole for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) was near non-existent in early 2019, but eternally curious I began working as an early adopter of niche staffing technologies matching our business objectives to the needs of our consumers.
March of 2020 was a poignant time as I discovered new ways to innovate the relationships of our tech stack that of our production staff and organization. Ultimately, I’d express that it was less of a desire to pursue a career in workforce solutions than it was for me to have a career that would allow me to create, innovate, evolve, and remain curious as communities/businesses embrace the age of the Internet of Things (IoT). In the work that we do, there is a lot to learn about connecting people to places, opportunities, and information, but it is all powered by the technology that ties all that data together. I do it for clean, efficient, and effective data that ultimately improves customer/business processes.
What are some of the significant milestones or accomplishments in your career that you’re most proud of?
Akin to a good deal of folk, I have the occasional ‘bout’ of imposter syndrome. In pursuing a STEM-related role, I often encounter environments where, simply put, there are not a lot of women present or women of color, with the note of leadership being a variable that only makes the ‘pond’ smaller.
A significant milestone that I am proud to be able to visit and re-visit is composed of two simple elements. The first is the representation of diversity in STEM and the populations therein. The second being the sense of reassurance that comes with experience. I served as an early adopter of building automations in the recruitment/staffing space, honing my skills until they were sharp and seasoned with proficiency. The most exceptional part being the reaffirming opportunities presented by collaborating within the staffing tech community and having earned a sense of growing accomplishment when participating in roundtables in the space.
How have you overcome challenges or barriers that are specific to women in your industry?
Representation has always held a very special place in my heart, and when considering some of the statistics around the presence of women in leadership in technical spaces, I take great pride in the unique opportunity that I have to blaze a trail honoring the individuals that came before me and to light the way ahead for those who come after.
My efforts around challenges in my industry are combated by my everyday efforts. I do not look, sound, or present ‘traditionally’ for the nature of the role I am in. I do, alternatively, pride myself on being a pioneer of what a leader can be in the age of the Internet of Things (IoT) and still be me. I celebrate good fortune in how I’ve been supported by a community of peers, mentors, and leaders that have allowed me to cultivate creative spaces that allow for innovation in our work environments.
It’s the sentiment of ‘both’ that matters for me. An everyday duality of living colorfully, participating as an active member of my community, being an athlete, maintaining a technical skillset, and being a leader for my team/organization all seamlessly co-existing.
Can you share your thoughts on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and how it has impacted your career?
In reflecting on my personal experiences around diversity and inclusion in the workplace, my sentiments are bittersweet. In my current role, I can contribute professionally as a thought leader, leveraging my skillsets in market automation to support our communities at large with the ambition of ‘Moving the Needle’ with education, communication, and good intent.
I’m thankful for the inclusive spaces that I have now because the juxtaposition exists as well, where I struggled to be any assemblance of myself in spaces that encouraged performative alliance and allowed for microaggression to thrive. In the spaces that I support and support me in exchange, I can serve as representation that: I am not only my hair, my skin, or gender; but rather so much more.
I’ve grown to a place personally and professionally where I take pride in ‘paving a way’ for the next generation of employees that comes after me as I make my way, supporting spaces that create even more inclusive spaces than exist today.
Can you tell us about your journey into the business world? What inspired you to pursue a career in your industry?
In my 27 years of experience in the Human Resource field, I’ve worked in both the public and private sectors, including work in the federal government. It’s been a true pleasure covering every area of human resources in the employment lifecycle.
With degrees in Human Services and Social Work, I started off my career as an Equal Employment Opportunity Counselor with the US Postal Service. I became a certified mediator and solved numerous complex interpersonal problems. This position blossomed into investigating discrimination claims for the USPS, and I later opened my own business in this field. This led me to continue my career at the HR compliance end of the employment lifecycle. After obtaining my MBA, I took the human services and social work skills I learned from my undergraduate degrees and melded them with the business acumen of my graduate business degree. From there, I used these skills to serve in various HR roles, and I am thrilled that I landed at Loyal Source as HR Director. I love learning, and Loyal Source offers many opportunities to learn and grow.
What strategies or principles have you found most effective in achieving work-life balance as a woman in business?
Achieving work-life balance as a businesswoman can be challenging, and it’s been a personal struggle for me in my personal journey. However, it’s essential for overall health (physical, emotional, and spiritual) well-being and long-term success. I try not to be too hard on myself if I occasionally fall out of balance; it happens to everyone.
Some strategies that have assisted me to strike a balance between my professional and personal life are:
- Prioritizing: I triage matters based on the urgency of the need and its importance. I identify my most important tasks and goals, both at work and in my personal life, and focus on what truly matters. I’m also prepared to delegate or say no to less important tasks.
- Time Management: I use time management techniques like the Pomodoro technique, time blocking, and to-do lists to stay organized. I also use Microsoft To-Do and OneNote to stay on track.
- Learning to Say No: This has been a personal struggle for me, but I strive to avoid overcommitting myself. It has been a work in progress. I politely decline personal obligations that could negatively impact my balance.
- Taking Regular Breaks: I schedule short breaks throughout the workday to rest and recharge. I make it a point to have lunch daily and usually eat outside to get some fresh air and sunshine! I also take vacations to relax and disconnect from work. Cruises are a great way to do that.
- Self-Care: I prioritize self-care, like taking walks and meditating, to help reduce stress and improve my overall well-being.
- Planning and Organizing: I plan my workweek in advance and allocate time for both work and personal commitments. This helps me stay on track and avoid last-minute stress.
- Reflecting and then Adjusting: I regularly assess my work-life balance and make adjustments as needed. It changes over time, so I try to be flexible and adapt.
In your leadership role, how do you foster a culture of empowerment and mentorship for other women in your organization or industry?
Creating a culture of empowerment and mentorship for women is an ongoing process that requires continuous effort, commitment (personal and companywide), and adaptability.
In our workplaces, it’s important to take an active role in implementing strategies to help women not just thrive but succeed. This includes promoting diversity, inclusivity, and gender equality efforts. Here are some ways I’ve created a culture of empowerment and mentorship for women or seen it at work:
- Leadership Involvement: First and foremost, having top leadership committed to gender equality and mentorship is the key. Leadership sets the tone by demonstrating their commitment to these principles. At Loyal Source, we have a strong culture of empowerment and mentorship for women. As a female leader, Chief Operations Officer Leigh Pace champions these efforts.
- Employee Resource Groups: ERGs focused on women’s issues where employees can gather to share experiences and offer support to one another is another excellent way to empower women. At Loyal Source, we have a wonderful ERG that includes women at all levels of the organization. We have training seminars, chats on various women’s topics, etc. These are always enjoyable and inspiring.
- Diversity and Inclusion Training and Committees: Conducting diversity and inclusion training for all employees to raise awareness and understanding of the importance of these issues is essential. Here at Loyal Source, we have an excellent DE & I committee that is
- Having Clear Policies: Developing and communicating clear policies that promote gender equality (including anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies) and ensuring these policies are consistently enforced is essential. Here at Loyal Source, we have these policies.
- Flexible Work Arrangements: Offering flexible work arrangements, such as remote work, part-time options, etc., to accommodate the diverse needs of women in the workforce is important. Here at Loyal Source, I’m thrilled to say that these arrangements are offered, and family obligations are strongly taken into consideration (especially with flexible schedules in these instances).
- Equal Pay Practices: Ensuring that women are paid fairly for their work and consistently reviewing gender pay gaps within the organization is important as well. Loyal Source does this as well.
- Open Communication: Encouraging open and transparent communication where women feel comfortable discussing their career goals, challenges, and concerns is imperative. Loyal Source is adept at this.
- Leadership Training: Lastly, having leadership development programs that specifically target women within the organization is essential. Helping women build their skills and confidence for leadership roles will help them get promoted quicker. Loyal Source champions this.
How has networking and building professional relationships played a role in your success? Do you have any advice for women looking to expand their networks?
Remember that networking is not just about quantity; quality matters too. Focus on building meaningful connections with individuals who share your professional interests and goals. Be genuine, approachable, and open to learning from others. Over the years, building professional relationships and networking with women of various ethnicities and cultures from various professional backgrounds has been a thoroughly enjoyable and inspirational experience. It’s helped me to grow as a person, think outside the box, continue to consider various perspectives, grow in cultural sensitivity, etc.
This takes putting yourself out there at times and stepping out of your comfort zone. To expand your network beyond your immediate work group, joining committees in areas outside your areas of job responsibilities and volunteering for events have been very helpful for me. It’s also helped me learn more about business operations by chatting with others in different fields. Building a professional network takes time, so be patient and persistent in your efforts.
For women looking to expand their networks, here are some of my tried and true strategies that I’ve used to sustain and expand my professional network:
- Attend Networking Events: Early on in my career, I made a point of attending numerous industry-specific conferences, seminars, and workshops. I also focus on events that celebrate promoting women in my field.
- Join Professional Organizations: This point has helped me a great deal! Professional associations and organizations related to my industry have benefited me greatly. In Orlando, GoSHRM (Greater Orlando SHRM) is the professional association for Human Resources professionals in Central Florida.
- Online Networking: I use professional networking platforms like LinkedIn to connect with colleagues and industry professionals. I also join women’s networking groups on these platforms to find like-minded professionals.
- Networking within Your Company: I attend company events, department meetings, and employee resource groups (ERGs) to connect with colleagues from various departments at various levels. This has been an asset for me since I learn more about Loyal Source each time I do.
- Volunteerism and Philanthropy: Loyal Source is big on giving back to the community through community service and supporting philanthropic organizations. This not only contributes to a good cause and makes you feel good, but also provides opportunities to meet like-minded individuals.
- Social Media and Blogs: I engage on social media and comment on industry-related articles. This helps you connect with others in your field and meet new people as well.
- Leverage Your Existing Network: Asking friends, family, and colleagues to introduce you to people in their networks who can provide valuable connections is an excellent way to start to build your network.
- Reciprocity: Being willing to offer your help and support to others in your network is imperative. Networking is a two-way street, and giving back can strengthen your relationships (both personally and professionally).
- Nurture Your Existing Relationships: Lastly, remember that building a network is not just about collecting contacts. Nurturing your relationships by staying in touch, sending congratulatory notes, or offering assistance when needed goes a very long way. Take time to celebrate the people around you and their accomplishments.
In conclusion, Business Women’s Week serves as a powerful reminder of the remarkable contributions of women in the business world. This annual celebration not only highlights the achievements of female entrepreneurs, executives, and professionals but also underscores the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. As we reflect on the accomplishments of these trailblazing women, it’s clear that their success paves the way for future generations of women to shatter glass ceilings and break through barriers. It is a week to celebrate, inspire, and empower, fostering a brighter, more equitable future for women in business. Let’s continue to support and champion the remarkable businesswomen who make our world a better place, not just during this week, but every day. Together, we can build a more inclusive and prosperous business landscape where talent knows no gender boundaries. Happy Business Women’s Week and a special thank you to all the women who make Loyal Source a success!