A Birthday and a Better World for Us All

Posted September 3, 2014

Today is the one-year anniversary of Illume’s formal launch in the industry. We are now in two locations (well three if you count me here in A2) and have a total of eight employees, including seven women, five of whom are young mothers, and one man a dad to two boys including one with special needs.

Sara and I are so grateful for this growth it is beyond our dreams. More we are grateful to be an employer of such amazing people. It makes this dream more than one about us; it makes it bigger and even more important. I am humbled by the gifts and enlivened by the challenges that come with building and being responsible for a team. It has proven to be the most rewarding portion of my work as someone who has “come of age” in my career during a recession.

I can’t even begin to express what it feels like to be in a position to provide meaningful employment with competitive pay, health and lifestyle benefits, and accommodations for parenting and for life. Our employees get to pick up their kids, take them to the doctor, and visit sick parents – no questions asked. In return they share their passion and talent with us and with our clients in a more present and committed way.

Since our launch, people have poked fun at Illume for “seeming to like to hire women.” Interestingly, we don’t seek women out – they seek us out. Since launching, I have paid close attention to the composition of the “leadership class” and the 10, 5, and 1% that make up the highest earners in the country. I have noted the persistent salary gaps and the ways in which women in leadership are demonized.

Jokes about hiring women are just one of the ways this plays out. No one questions the hiring practices of men or makes light of competing firms with a nearly all-male executive team. No, because this is the way things are. Seventy-five percent of single-income earners bringing home over $100k per year are men. Just 25% are women. I don’t pretend to believe that money is the sole source of social power (and certainly not above issues of race, ethnicity, and gender identity), but it is telling. It is a story that is so commonly told that even calling it out feels like a cliche. Like an old banner, but it’s one I am going to go right ahead and stand under.

This is not about leaning in. This is about making space. This is not about men versus women. This is about making a better world and a better work place for us all.

For this next year, I hope to further diversify our workforce as we grow and speak to power through power, wherever I can. For me, this means finding ways to create opportunity and safe spaces for all people regardless of their race, gender, who they love or what their dreams may be, and recognizing what it looks like to do this. It means constant reflection and learning. It means figuring out how to reach out and reach back. It means ensuring that our healthcare and benefits policies are fully inclusive, non-discriminatory, and that our lifestyle benefits recognize the needs of every person who comes through our door.