Thank you for not believing in me

In 2015 I suffered a traumatic brain injury. I still can not functionally read. I still can not use my left arm and hand properly. I still use earplugs. I still do speech therapy - regularly. I still love my neurologist. No, I am not better.

In 2018 I was handed an assessment from my Long Term Disability provider that indicated that I was unfit for any type of work. Nothing. A team had given me a label and politely told me that I should be thankful for my family.

After 3 years of crying and anger and rage and loss - it felt as though I had been pushed down the stairs - it was the final insult to what felt like an immense failure.

I wrote a letter to my insurance provider that was the equivalent of "fuck you." I had nothing left and nowhere to go but it sure as hell wasn't going to be me laying face down on the couch anymore.

I sat and looked at my little boys who were now 7 and 5 and thought - how can I show them what a life lived looks like. How will I be remembered if my next seizure kills me?

I started career coaching and very part-time HR work. I hired people, fired people. I got amazing software for reading. But I wanted to show the world that I was not just "lucky to have my kids" I wanted to be that person who did things differently because no one would ever hire me anyway to work for their company. I wanted to be able to say the things that working women could not but REALLLLY wanted to.

Moms at Work is what happens when you take everything away from someone - their body, mind, and future. It is what happens when you tell them over and over and over again that they can not. It is what happens when you keep showing up in the world and refuse to buy into the notion that you need to pretend to be something you are not. It is what happens when you have no plan and are uninterested in status or power. It is what happens when you don't care how you look because you are so focused on not hiding anymore and hoping that other people will be more comfortable because you are wearing a Star Wars shirt and talking about your various disabilities.

My name is Allison Venditti. I am a 40-year-old woman who is trying. Really hard. I am a mother of 3 little boys who know the words patriarchy, love, gentleness and systems-level change.

I am failing.

I am growing.

But I show up. Every damn time. In case tomorrow I can't anymore.

My name is Allison Venditti. I am the Founder of Moms at Work. I employ 3 women all of who have career gaps. We all work part-time, remote, and are well paid. My goal is to make us all better paid. To run a company I believe in for women who believe in us. I want to show that work CAN be different so I can tell the places that don't believe me to SIT DOWN.

I run Canada's largest network for working mothers.

I have now helped women negotiate over 2 million in salary increases.

I have met with the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to give a voice to working mothers.

I helped reduce the number of EI hours needed to get parental leave during COVID. I sit on the EI roundtable to help make changes.

I am going to normalize pay transparency and I refuse to stop talking about it.

I will normalize and popularize the rise of part-time work in corporate. Women need options not low-paid contract work.

My name is Allison Venditti. I was voted one of 50 changemakers to watch in 2022 and I sure as hell am not going to prove that vote wrong.

So to all the people who wrote me off. For all the people who didn't believe in me. For all the people who tried to tell me running a community meant weird corporate brand partnerships. Thank you.

I don't need you. I have my people.

My people are Moms at Work. And to you - I say thank you. Now grab your coffee and let's make some change (except those of you who don't drink coffee - we can get a nice light tea or hot chocolate - because this isn't that place - we can accommodate you!)

Allison Venditti

Career Coach, HR Expert, salary negotiation whisperer, pay transparency and equity advocate. Founder of My Parental Leave and Moms at Work, Canada's largest organization committed to helping women earn more money, land better jobs and build community. Allison was named The Globe and Mail Report on Business Top 50 Changemakers 2022, is a regular speaker and media expert with over 100 interviews in 2021.

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