Out of the Closet and Onto the Job Site
Updated: Feb 3, 2022
How lumenomics is Out and Proud in the Construction Industry
As Pride Month comes to a close, lumenomics celebrates the progress and victories of the LGBTQ+ community. From the social victories of widespread acceptance to legal victories like marriage equality and federal workplace protections, Pride Month reminds us of the momentous progress that has been made to advance the rights and dignity of LGBTQ+ people. For lumenomics, a certified LGBTQ-owned business, the impacts of these changes are felt at a personal level.
Bill Sechter, Vice President, Business Development and Marketing
“I came out at a time when it wasn’t safe to come out.” said Bill Sechter, Vice President, Business Development. “As you were fighting with and accepting yourself, you were being told you could no longer be a part of the communities and structures you grew up in. That was hard. The fact that these changes have been made, that we’re finally included and celebrated and conversations are happening is such a positive thing. When you can’t be authentic with yourself, you ultimately can’t contribute your full potential, because you’re focused on outlying pressure. If you’re struggling with who you are, you’re not 100% present. That can be dangerous in construction.” says Bill.
While we should celebrate the progress we’ve made, we must still grapple with the fact that many barriers, obstacles, and social stigmas remain present for those who are LGBTQ+, especially in the workplace. As a business in the construction industry, we’re regrettably aware that our industry remains an unwelcoming place for LBGTQ+ individuals. For Marti Hoffer, Founder and CEO, this experience is all too familiar.
Marti Hoffer, Founder and CEO
As lumenomics’ CEO, Marti Hoffer stands tall upon nearly 30 years in the construction industry. With her mission to maximize natural daylight in designed spaces, she has built a company dedicated to changing how architects and owners illuminate interior spaces. However, illumination has not been her only mission. As a lesbian, the construction industry and business in general - was never a comfortable place for me.” She says. “I realized very early on that in order to fit in and find success, I needed to omit that part of my life. Construction barely welcomed women especially in leadership and decision making roles- let alone lesbian women. For so long, the inability to be authentically me filled me with shame. I spent my career hiding crucial parts of myself to fit in and pass along with everyone else to get a seat at the table. I don’t want anyone else to have to do that.”
Marti Hoffer and Design & Engineering Project Executive Ray Hamo
That’s why from the company’s beginnings in 2009, lumenomics was dedicated to opening the doors of opportunity to all and changing the social landscape of the lighting and construction industry. While a strident effort was made to attract diverse employees through the creation of a robust company culture centered around diversity, the effort also included outreach to businesses looking for diverse solutions. Through accreditation and certifications like WBENC and State Agencies, lumenomics has worked to promote our values externally and stand out against the flow. While these certifications signaled important changes, something remained hidden- our LGBTQ-owned status. In 2019, that all changed when lumenomics pursued and acquired the NGLCC accreditation. For Marti, taking that step was monumental.
In 2019, Marti Hoffer won the NGLCC Biz Pitch Competition
“Coming out as a business was terrifying,” said Marti. “As a company leader responsible for the jobs and livelihoods of many, I was afraid taking this step would put everyone in the company at risk.” What ultimately happened was quite the opposite. “Stepping forward into the spotlight as an LGBTQ+ company made us stand out in a good way. It helped increase our business, and connected us to good companies doing good work whose values aligned with ours.”
Anna Sevostynova, HR Manager
Not only did stepping forward help attract businesses to lumenomics, but applicants as well. For HR Manager Anna Sevostynova, being intentional about inclusivity yielded incredible results. “We’ve always made sure to state our values in hiring posts and outreach. By including our LGBTQ affirmations and our status, we’ve had so many applicants reach out and share with us their own identities and stories. For many, they’ve never had the opportunity to be visible at work, and that makes them so excited.”
Ricky Bauer, Project Manager
With an intentional focus on bringing in different perspectives and backgrounds, lumenomics has assembled a diverse group of employees at the table. For Project Manager Ricky Bauer, it’s this commitment to diversity that helps him feel fully supported at work. “I have never felt like I didn’t belong here. I feel comfortable at the office, or on the job site. I wear hot pink PPE! It’s like, I am who I am, and if you have a problem with it, I don’t know how to help you. It’s so important to be open and out, and I know I can be here.”
Benjamin Oman, Creative Manager
For Creative Manager Benjamin Oman, the ability to be open about his identity at work has helped him change how he sees and interacts with others. “I don’t think people realize that you don’t come out once. You have to come out every single day to new people for the rest of your life. As LGBTQ+ people, we’re constantly assessing the situations around us to determine our safety and whether or not it’s ok to reveal ourselves. When I'm looking for signs and signals that communicate whether a new person is safe or not, I’m realizing that I too am now judging someone before I actually get to know them. One wrong begets another- it’s a vicious cycle we must put an end to. When we can actually be open and honest with one another, we can tear down the assumptions and barriers that divide us. That’s how change happens, and lumenomics is cultivating that progress.”
Lumenomics 2021 Pride Theme
As lumenomics moves boldly forward, we acknowledge there is much work to be done to build an equitable and safe environment for all on our job sites. Organizations like Build Out Alliance are helping elevate the conversations around LGBTQ issues on the job sites, and internal initiatives like Turner Constructions’ Turner Pride are helping structure change on projects. While there are many avenues to pursue LGBTQ+ equality in our industry, one common thread binds them all together: Passing. In a recent open letter to the industry, Marti discussed this concept of passing and how it must be dismantled in our industry. “Become a symbol that inspires other LGBTQ+ people to come forward and join the ranks of your industries. Together, we can create a world where nobody feels they need to hide or change who they are to fit in.”