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Celebrating women in the workplace: The balance of pregnancy and promotions | by Brenna Behnke

As part of Women’s History Month, OpenSesame is celebrating our women colleagues and putting the spotlight on their stories. Hear from Brenna Behnke, Customer Success Manager, about her experience being a soon-to-be first-time mom while navigating her career trajectory. 

When I was asked to share my story in celebration of women’s history month, my initial feelings of honor gave way to a sense of hesitancy. Will others find it compelling? Do people care about my lived experience? I tend to undervalue my capabilities and minimize my accomplishments. This is not unique, as studies show women tend to consistently underestimate their capabilities and contributions. In my past, I’ve struggled with confidence and self-compassion as I strived to be the best version of myself. 

Then, I began to think about what Women’s History Month meant to me. It’s a time to celebrate incredible, hardworking, changemaker women and those who’ve advocated for women in our history. It gives me the space to celebrate the strong women in my life who have helped shape who I am and where I am today—family, friends, mentors, colleagues, customers, and my personal mentor and hero, my mother. Many of whom, like my mother, tend to be the glue of their family, organization, or team, who have sacrificed personal wants for others and worked hard at everything they put their mind to. After this consideration, I felt compelled to share my story. 

I’m honored to represent many other women who share my story. As I write this, I am 37 weeks pregnant, expecting our first little one to join our family in just a few short weeks. Two months ago, I was promoted to a Customer Success Manager and joined a new team. In this role, I have the privilege of working with customers daily to enhance the elearning opportunities at their organization to ensure their employees have access to the training they need to advance their purpose. 

When I started my journey at OpenSesame almost two years ago, I had these goals in mind. I had a desire to build relationships with our customers and have always dreamed of becoming a mother. Back then, I was hesitant to share my personal goals of starting a family in fear that others would think it would get in the way of my work or derail my career advancement potential. This fear is unfortunately something that many still experience today in the workplace. The hesitation to bring their full selves to work in fear of judgment. 

What I soon came to realize was that OpenSesame had a different culture, one that is open and accepting. A company that encourages authenticity, openness and bringing your whole self to work. Even a few months back when I was getting ready to share the news I was pregnant, that fear crept back in. Upon sharing the news, I received nothing but words of support and encouragement. I realized that the individuals that make up OpenSesame cared as much about my personal aspirations as they did about my professional ones. The fact that I would eventually be taking maternity leave didn’t interrupt my professional advancement either. I was transparent with all involved and was offered a promotion to a new team while 7 months pregnant. 

This experience taught me that in order to be your best self, it’s important to show up and be transparent about what makes you uniquely you. Find a company culture where that is celebrated and supported. Where you’re not afraid to have a voice, in fact you are encouraged to use it. This is true for all individuals; women, men, pregnant, not-pregnant. Every human should feel valued when they show up to work, be encouraged to share their voice and bring their whole selves to work. 

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate women’s history month and the unique position of working mothers than to welcome a new life into the world this month. I look forward to the opportunity to guide and teach them what it means to be a caring, confident and curious individual. To share the morals and values I’ve developed and the confidence to share their voice to add value to this world. Thank you to all of the women in my life, who have taught me so much about what it means to be a strong woman, in my personal and professional life. 

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