When I decided to start Summus, I spent a lot of time thinking about not only the product and the experience that I wanted to build, but the team and the culture that we would need to be successful.
I wanted to work with people who were smart, restless, curious and who wanted to make a difference in the world. I wanted colleagues with different backgrounds, viewpoints and life experiences who were passionate about our work together. In turn, our company and culture needed to reciprocate by honoring and supporting their lives, ambitions and professional development. Summus is the Latin word for supreme, and our culture is defined by accountability, humility, and setting a high bar for all things we do — which brings me to the incredible impact working mothers have had on Summus.
From day one, we’ve had incredible working mothers building our company. One of my co-founders, Jennifer Kherani, MD, helped us harness the humanity of medicine into our solutions and sparked the concept of expanding our scope to “any health question.” Our early members were delighted and awed by Jen and she defined how we built our Summus MD network, in addition to raising two boys, and contributing to her community on her son’s school board. Another member of our founding team, Jessica Spiegel, is the proud mother of three who had, and continues to have, an incredible impact on our service architecture, product innovation and ethos at Summus.
For me, the issue of supporting working mothers is deeply personal. I was raised by two strong women, my grandmother and mother, who was an English teacher. I am also fortunate to be married to an amazing woman who has a high profile, demanding job and we are the proud parents of two daughters. When I started Summus, our second daughter was a year old. We were working through the challenges of balancing family, building a company from scratch, a demanding job in financial services and being contributors to our community. I have deep respect and admiration for working mothers and the sense of responsibility they feel towards their family, community and career. At Summus, I am committed to creating an environment that supports colleagues at every stage of their lives, including working parents and especially working moms.
Stepping back, the effects of the pandemic have had significant negative effects on the workforce in the US and around the world, with well documented reports of burnout, financial losses and uncertainty around the evolving work environment. In the US, the cohort hit hardest has been working mothers, who comprise one third of all employed women, and are dealing with increased pressure in what McKinsey describes as the “double shift” of additional responsibilities for childcare and home responsibilities — and at a disproportionate rate compared to their male counterparts. As a result, women, particularly mothers, are leaving the workforce in search of balance and time.
As leaders, we have an opportunity to work to change this. It will take innovation and empathy towards the different stages of caregiving and how to balance those with work demands. But it’s possible, because we’ve made that a core part of our culture at Summus, and we are not a group that lacks ambition and drive. More than 60% of our team are women, and a significant number are mothers. Supporting working fathers is also important at Summus to allow for shared responsibility at home.
I’m proud of the culture and policies we’ve put in place to attract and retain outstanding talent. We offer empathy, flexible schedules, remote working environments, paid parental leave and access to our clinical experts through Summus to help find the answers for any clinical question, including everything from fertility to pediatric milestones to caregiving support for parents. Importantly, we recognize the amazing contributions busy, talented mothers can make to our company.
It’s time for leaders across all organizations to create new ways to work that allow for working parents to create structures that support contributing professionally while having time to be the parents they want to be. Let’s celebrate the working mothers in our lives and ease the path for multi-dimensional success for the next generation.
To the moms on my team and in my life, thank you for all that you do. Happy Mother’s Day.