6 mins | 1156 words
Cassie Myers is committed to making economic empowerment accessible to all.
Over the years this passion has seen her bridge data, education and tech to mentor young women at hackathons, augment organizational impact in gender justice and equality, and, today, advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace as the Founder and CEO of Lunaria.
Through Lunaria’s analytics and education platform, Cassie helps business leaders get a clearer picture of where they are, where they could use some help, and what they need to do to move the dial on DEI at work.
It started with a survey
In 2017, Cassie was helping mission-driven nonprofits measure the impact of their work on gender justice and equality through a survey tool (that would eventually become Lunaria).
She was struck by how effectively these audits inspired change in her clients. “As a client,” Cassie said, “I can see that, okay, after I did this, I know that something happened. You have the information you need to make your next informed step. With our tool, we try to help people receive value while maintaining honesty and transparency as an organisation. This is key for DEI to flourish.”
It didn’t matter if these leaders thought they were doing a good job — the data served as a reality check, shining a light on who they were actually serving and where they were falling behind. In 2020, Lunaria expanded their offering with turnkey education units that gave clients greater accountability, insight and support.
To maximize impact, Cassie made sure these units were custom fit to meet each client’s unique needs. As she said, “Our library isn’t a free-for-all. We use results from each client — be it from their survey audits or education units — to collect the necessary data to understand where the gaps are, what people are interested in learning about, and, from there, suggest the appropriate education unit to be implemented next.”
An intersectional approach
With an eye to making inclusive workspaces for all, Cassie knew Lunaria had to take an intersectional approach, where “race, class, gender, and other individual characteristics “intersect” with one another and overlap.”
“We want to encourage our clients to focus on topics that are responsive to their audit, and that are responsive to what’s happening in the world.” Cassie explained. “There are a multitude of perspectives, experiences and identities that make us all unique. And those intersections reveal just how big this kind of work is, and how long this journey is. We want to help people respond not only to their own realities but those of others who might not have the same identity or experiences that they do.”
We’ve been here before
The global pandemic has heightened racial injustice and other social inequities, inspiring a new crop of grassroots leaders to use their expertise to support historically marginalized groups through the formalized practice of DEI, impacting organisations across industries and sectors.
But this work isn’t new. Most scholars trace its roots back to the women’s and civil rights movements that defined the 1960s and ‘70s and North America, propelling a new field in workplace training.
Cassie sees Lunaria as a complementary solution that augments the legacy work of DEI specialists. “We do not operate under the assumption that we offer everything an organisation needs to fulfill a meaningful DEI mandate,” she said, “this work is dynamic and expansive and it should be threaded into every single part of your business.”
“That’s why we collaborate with DEI practitioners and service providers who use our platform to supplement their work. With us, they’re able to measure the impact of their practice, and offer just-in-time education that complements their offering.” said Cassie.
In great company
Cassie’s good work hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2020, she was featured in the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business as one of their Top 50 Changemakers. On seeing her work celebrated, Cassie’s excitement was fixed on being represented with such a diverse group of leaders.
As Cassie said, “It showed the diversity of justice work happening around Canada. How many changemakers from different life stages, backgrounds and areas of expertise are working to make a difference. Being alongside people doing different, interesting and impactful work validated what I’m doing with and outside of Lunaria. I’m in great company.”
Filling in the gaps
In order to become the leading DEI education and analytics solution for mission-driven organizations, Cassie knew her team would need some help navigating the world of investment. That’s where SheBoot, an Ottawa-based 6-week bootcamp that prepares founders to pitch their business and secure investment, came in.
As Cassie said, “The world of investment was very new to us. But this doesn’t only impact women founders, it also impacts other underrepresented founders whether they’re Black, Indigenous and other racialized folks, or people in the 2SLGBTQ+ community. That’s the biggest gap: who we are and who we need to be connected to in order to be successful.”
Cassie commended the program’s hands-on support for guiding her and fellow founders through the process of securing investment “We gained a shadow board of people who are either working in our space or are investors themselves,” said Cassie, “and we got to pitch to Capital Angel Network [a group of angel investors in the Ottawa-Gatineau region] at SheBoot’s pitchfest and won fan favourite. The interest from the community at Invest Ottawa, to make these connections and offer these explanations to fill in the gaps — other programs don’t do this.”
From solopreneur to team leader
Though Cassie now works with a team of four, she started out as a solopreneur. For entrepreneurs starting out on their own, this is her advice: “There will be situations where you won’t have a group of people to bounce ideas off of. So you need to be decisive and confident in your choices.”
“Now that I have a team, this is more important than ever. Because when you have people working on different projects under your leadership, you become a source of truth that needs to be ready whenever you’re called upon.” Said Cassie.
“We’re excited to grow, and I am not going to be a bottleneck for someone else’s success. I try to be really intentional and do the self-work needed to be a good founder, to be the person that can lead my company to success. When you’re able to trust yourself, you can accept people for who they are, and benefit from their enthusiasm.”
Lunaria has an active DEI blog channel. Recently Cassie wrote an article on the why, what, and how of colorism in the workplace:
#colorism is an important topic for workplaces, as it stems from and often exacerbates discrimination. To help with that, we have a new article on what colorism is and why it must be a workplace priority.https://t.co/w3ZoVTwTdl
— Lunaria (@belunaria) July 6, 2021
Are you ready to launch your organization’s DEI journey? Then Lunaria’s 8-week program is for you. Learn more here.
This article is a part of the SheBoot spotlight series. To read other stories that highlight women founders building exciting tech and tech-enabled startups, click here.
Invest Ottawa has a holistic tech portfolio, meaning our services and programs (including SheBoot!) help businesses by shortening their growth path. To learn more about how we do this, visit Venture Path Programs | Invest Ottawa.