Randi Tangney can pinpoint the moment her career perspective shifted dramatically. The VP and employment and litigation counsel at Lockton, the world’s largest independent insurance brokerage, doesn’t have to think too hard about what prompted the change, because she sees it every day: it was the arrival of her first daughter, now seven years old.
“It was that moment when I decided that I could be the driver of my career and my future,” Tangney remembers. “Despite what anyone might say or think, I could do things that seemed out of my reach or difficult to achieve. I gained the courage to go after things, and I let that fear of failure fade away.”
At the time, Tangney was a successful lawyer in private practice, but she was all too aware of the stereotypes and sexism that had affected her career. Experiences such as being confused for a paralegal or just being the only woman in the room in a male-dominated industry had affected Tangney’s confidence and often made her feel like she was coming up short.
“It is easy to feel inadequate due to people that you encounter early in your career,” she says. “Many people, but especially young women, fall victim to those who try to succeed, not on merit but by intimidation, humiliation, or condescension. Many of those people I encountered early on seemed imbued with this confidence and self-assurance—frankly, for no discernible reason.”
Here’s what Tangney wishes she could go back in time and tell herself: Allow yourself the confidence you perceive in others. Be secure in yourself because you’re going to figure it out. You’re not as inferior as others would have you believe.
But seven years ago, everything changed. Motherhood brought the knowledge that Tangney was no longer living just for herself. She wanted to help create a world where her daughters wouldn’t need to feel those same insecurities or doubts.
“I want my daughters to feel comfortable standing up for themselves, and I don’t think that necessarily needs to be confrontational,” she explains. “I just want them to be comfortable enough with themselves to stand their ground and not ever feel like they need to go along just to get along.”
Seven years ago, Tangney decided to aim high professionally. She was drawn to Lockton, which had made a name for itself across Kansas City as not just a high-functioning professional organization but also one that put its people ahead of its bottom line. Tangney wasn’t sure if she had enough experience to land the role, and she went after it anyway. Had it been even a year earlier, she admits, she probably wouldn’t have even tried.
“I felt like the job was made for me, though,” she says. “I’ve come to care so much about this company because of how it values its associates. Lockton has given me the opportunity to pursue what I love doing while also being a working mom. There’s just an understanding here that we are people with obligations and responsibilities outside of the office, and as long as client needs and deadlines are being met, we can do what we need to do.”
Parental leave, childcare, and other benefits for working parents in the US lag far behind the rest of the developed world. But Tangney says organizations that don’t support or show grace to their employees while they are tending to family issues increase the likelihood that those employees won’t return it all.
“I think more organizations should consider looking at parental leave from a different perspective,” she explains. “What if you viewed it as an investment instead of a cost? Then how would you feel about it?”
At Lockton, Tangney has been focused on aiding the organization’s significant growth: its workforce has doubled in size since she started, and the VP is involved in its onboarding process. Tangney says that Lockton is an organization that truly values diversity, equity, and inclusion, and that focus makes the work she does even more fulfilling.
“You just feel proud to be part of this place because I know that the business wants everyone here to feel equal and feel valued. It’s one thing to claim to be a family company, but Lockton lives its values, truly,” she says.
Outside of her role at Lockton, Tangney serves on the board of directors for Safehome, a nonprofit that provides shelter and services for victims of domestic violence in the Kansas City area. Tangney says she will be part of the organization for as long as they’ll have her. She wants to help those who have nowhere else to go, and she knows that they too can find the strength within themselves to move forward.