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Cultivating an Environment for Everyone

February 1, 2022
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Christine Palmer, Operations Manager, KRents

What Christine Palmer remembers most about the day was an overwhelming sense of pride.

She had worked toward the major milestone for almost 15 years, not realizing how real the possibility was until it was right in front of her. Coincidentally, on International Women’s Day in March, her promotion to Operations Manager for KRents was announced company wide.

“The support I felt was like nothing I’ve ever experienced,” remembers Palmer. “The feedback and kind words were overwhelming, and the best part is knowing females within the company—from all different branches—were inspired. They can work their way up in the company too. Impacting other people was the most rewarding of it all.”
Almost half of Palmer’s team are female. “They’re very strong and hold all of us accountable,” she says. As a leader at SMS Equipment, Palmer can be described in the same way. She believes that creating connections and impacting people is foundational to her role. Her passion is supporting the growth of “high-potential employees,” as she calls them. “People who remind me of myself in my early years, who want to grow and get that chance to prove themselves—that excites me,” she says. “Overall, I want to create an environment that people feel good working in, where they can reach their full potential.” 

Part of that is encouraging collaborative thinking and involving everyone in processes. “I think we all should feel like a contributor to the team and that we can promote positive change,” she says. It means encouraging open and free exchange of ideas and thoughts. Listening. Asking questions.

Cultivating this environment is something Palmer has experienced firsthand. “I feel like I’ve grown with the company,” she says. “I’m proud of the direction we’re headed in, especially in regard to diversity, equity, and inclusion.” 

Palmer defines DEI as a mindset. It’s part of her day-to-day life, with her most prized memories are from travelling around the world and meeting new people: “The different cultures, different thought processes, different beliefs and perspectives. It allowed me to open my mind, and in my personal life I have such a diverse range of friends. I love it! I think different viewpoints are empowering.”

Those diverse experiences have led Palmer further along the DEI journey than many. “DEI doesn’t just stop at race, gender, appearance, or sexuality,” she says. “I think it includes intellectual diversity. That promotes inclusion, creativity, and empowers our employees.” All of it is tied to a deep mutual respect in the workplace—a longstanding and actionable pillar at SMS Equipment.

When hiring team members, naturally Palmer focuses on the human element. “I prefer to have conversations and get to know people. It’s not just an interview of ‘what can you do for us?’ It’s an interview of ‘what can we do for each other?’ When people are happy, they’re engaged.”

Palmer credits that pathway to attracting more talent, retaining employees, and increasing performance levels. “I think in five to ten years from now, we won’t have to think about it so much. It’ll be a total mindset shift. We’ll look at people, see them as people, and not think of DEI as a box to checkmark.”
Even though it’s a matter of hard work pays off, Palmer is still reeling at earning her role as Operations Manager. “I never imagined at the beginning of my career that I would be sitting where I am today—what a wow moment!”
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