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Building Inclusive Leave Management: A Look at Our Partnership with TiLT

During life’s biggest moments (the birth of a child, taking care of a sick loved one, recovering from injury), no one should be worried about paperwork and getting paid. Taking extended time away from work today is stressful. And yet, every year, at least 10% of the workforce goes through the difficult process of taking leave (and this is prior to the pandemic!)

TiLT is tackling this problem head on, building the inclusive leave management solution for every life-changing moment. The TiLT platform automates the administration of workplace leave so HR teams can focus on the employee experience–a clear case where automation makes the experience more human, not less.

We first met Jen Henderson, CEO of TiLT, in 2020 as part of the Techstars Workforce Development Accelerator program. We were moved by Jen’s personal story–she launched TiLT after experiencing her own career stagnation and discrimination during both of her parental leaves. We were, and continue to be, blown away by how thoughtful Jen is as a leader. She’s built a strong team full of experienced and passionate folks, many of whom have experienced the problem TiLT is working to solve firsthand.

We met with Jen and team regularly throughout 2020 and into 2021 and our interest in the company only grew. Our first post-vaccination travel priority was to fly to Denver to finally meet the TiLT team in person. It was during this visit that we, along with the TiLT team, began dreaming of the TiLT’s Series A, which we led later that summer.

TiLT is a strong example of the Firework thesis at work–investing in technology that creates access and opportunity, driving economic and social mobility. Access to workplace leave is a crucial component of building a more equitable workforce. For example, giving caretakers — disproportionately low-income women — the ability to take paid leave allows them to care for their families without sacrificing their long-term earning potential. Economists estimate that supporting working family caregivers would increase the US GDP by $1.7 trillion by 2030.

In January of 2020, women achieved the historic milestone of making up 50% of the U.S. workforce. These gains were lost to the COVID pandemic, during which women disproportionately left the workforce due to caretaking responsibilities–women accounted for 63% of jobs lost between February 2020 and January 2022. While men have rebounded, regaining all of the jobs lost, women are still down 1.8 million jobs from where they were at the start of the pandemic.

When people leave the workforce, they lose not just their job but also the accompanying benefits and stability. This contributes to lower lifetime earnings, retirement and Social Security benefits, even for women who start working again.

Paid leave access is getting more interest from legislators at both the state level and internationally. As access increases, so does the opportunity for TiLT’s growth. Companies and governments will need help in operationalizing paid leave, which remains complex and difficult to manage.

Which brings us to the administrative side of leave management. Leave management requires complying with ever-changing state and federal regulations, coordinating across private insurance plans, and navigating multiple sources of pay, all while communicating this in a digestible way to an employee in need. Managing leave has been made more difficult in the last two years by the regulatory changes brought on by COVID, as well as the challenges of supporting a distributed workforce based across different states and countries. This administrative burden adds unnecessary weight to an already vulnerable moment for an employee.

TiLT is easing this burden through automation. Automation is often seen as something that replaces human jobs. With TiLT, automation enables HR teams to focus on the higher-value work that only humans can do, creates a more consistent employee experience, and lessens errors, saving the company time and money.

Since our investment, TiLT has only continued to amaze us. The TiLT platform supports every step of leave management and has seen unprecedented contract renewal rates. They’ve also recently won the Emerging Tech Company of the Year award from the Colorado Technology Association, and were selected as one of Colorado’s Companies to Watch.

We’re excited to continue partnering with TiLT as they rise to meet the growing challenge of paid leave and further the profound impact they have on companies and communities!

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Firework Ventures

Firework Ventures

Future of Work Venture Fund. Igniting human potential.