What does it mean to have an inclusive company culture? It’s a phrase that gets thrown around a lot, but at Paylocity, the definition is simple: to celebrate the unique perspectives of each employee and to amplify their voice — regardless of identity or job title. Inclusion is a big priority for the cloud-based payroll and human capital management platform, and it’s putting in the work to foster a workplace where anyone can thrive.
“We build software that gets used by millions of employees every month,” says Christine Pellini, senior director of product and tech development at Paylocity. “Those employees are diverse, and we want the people that build the product to be equally diverse.”
Four women at Paylocity tell us how the company has empowered them to lead and make a difference — not only at work but in the tech community at large.
What is your role at Paylocity?
Christine Pellini, Senior Director, Product & Tech Development: I help shape the product we deliver to our customers, lead teams to execute that vision and mentor team members to help them grow their careers.
Barbra Walton, Principal Engineer (not pictured): I help define the technical direction for the organization, provide support and consulting for product teams and step in as needed to provide technical assistance on our more challenging projects.
Karen Klimara, Director, Product & Tech Development: The mission of my team is to hire diverse, entry-level talent and develop and enable them to achieve their highest level of performance.
Sharde Agee, Senior Software Engineer: I code and help design solutions for problems that my team faces.
In terms of company culture, what’s unique about Paylocity? What do you like about it?
Pellini: Describing our company culture is challenging for me because there is no single striking thing that defines it. Rather, it is the collection of small things that when added together create a special atmosphere. It is getting to be my own quirky self in the office or taking a break to look at the latest dog photo that got posted on our community app. It is feeling like I make a difference and add value every day. It is being able to tell our CEO that I think his idea is wrong and having a debate about what is best for our customers.
One thing I really like about Paylocity’s culture is that anyone can talk to anyone — even high-level leadership folks are easily reachable and open to questions or ideas.”
Klimara: There is an appetite for growth, understanding, and having your perspectives changed here. My opinions and voice are always welcomed with grace and understanding.
Walton: Culture is something Paylocity takes very seriously. When I started, the product and tech team was maybe 150 people — now, we’re three or four times that size. Keeping that culture of trust and openness takes some effort, and the organization is working hard at that. In product and tech, each team has on-sites at least once a year, and we have a yearly tech convention where everyone gets together for a week. One thing I really like about Paylocity’s culture is that anyone can talk to anyone — even high-level leadership folks are easily reachable and open to questions or ideas.
Paylocity puts a lot of emphasis on career growth for its employees. In practice, what does this look like?
Klimara: I am the director of our early talent development programs. Software engineers who are new to the workforce or have very little experience begin their career at Paylocity through a robust onboarding and rotational program led by my team. By tapping into talented individuals at the start of their careers, we further open up the pipelines for diverse thinking that shapes the development of our products. In return, we are able to provide these individuals with a wealth of knowledge and experience that will accelerate their career growth.
Agee: Having been recently promoted to a senior software engineer makes me feel like I have more ownership in our product. I have been taking on more leadership roles by helping come up with the best solutions for the work at hand and providing feedback to the rest of the team. Paylocity has helped me prepare for this role by providing training via conferences and Pluralsight. From a leadership perspective, being a part of the interview process has given me the opportunity to grow. Additionally, being a part of the women developers group gives me mentorship opportunities, which is something I’m passionate about.
By tapping into talented individuals at the start of their careers, we further open up the pipelines for diverse thinking that shapes the development of our products.”
Walton: Paylocity is growing really fast and there are so many opportunities to pitch in that I felt like I would have been missing out if I didn’t make my voice heard. Also, as someone who has been at the company for several years, I felt like I had some knowledge that I could pass on to help the newer folks get up to speed quickly.
Tell us about some of the committees and events at Paylocity that are geared to help women in tech.
Walton: Paylocity has loads of resources for women. We not only have an organization-wide women’s employee resource group (ERG), but we also have a group for women engineers that allows technical women to get to know each other, ask for support around technical topics and provide mentorship opportunities. We recently had an on-site event at our office in Schaumburg where any Paylocity woman could come to the office and participate in several days of talks and forums.
Agee: This conference gave us the opportunity to meet others at Paylocity that we normally do not see on a day-to-day basis. We were able to listen and learn from each other’s experiences, and I feel even more supported in my role here. Not only was it a celebration of our achievements, but it was also a way for us to connect and work together to identify what Paylocity can do for their women in technology.
Klimara: Aside from the women’s group, we have three other ERGs: OneWorld, Equality, and Virtual Connect. Respectively, the missions are to raise awareness and support for ethnic diversity, the LGBTQ+ community and our entire remote population across the United States. We invite everyone to participate in any or all of them.
Do you have any advice for women looking to get into the tech industry? Any advice for those specifically looking for a career in engineering?
Agee: Be confident in your abilities. Do not be afraid to speak your mind. Being imperfect is OK. In fact, it is better to learn from your mistakes rather than never putting yourself out there at all. Lastly, put yourself in situations that you are afraid to be in so that you can grow in that area.
Pellini: Don’t settle and don’t sell yourself short. There are plenty of technology companies out there that are eager to hire you because of the value you can add. If you don’t feel comfortable, respected or challenged in your organization, find someplace that you do. Settling can set your career back by years, I did that with my first few jobs and wonder what more I could have learned over those years.
If you don’t feel comfortable, respected or challenged in your organization, find someplace that you do.”
Klimara: You might be the only one in your immediate circle that looks like you, thinks like you and has similar experiences as you. Don’t let those things be deterrents. It might mean going outside of your circle and your comfort zone, but there are resources made for you. There are advocates and supporters just waiting to cheer you on and see you be successful in this industry. I’m one of them.