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  • August 15, 2013

It's About Damn Time

The last two months have been a whirlwind of activity and positive evolution for Happy Cog.We have been on a small, carefully-planned hiring Decorative Illustration spree for almost all of our departments. We put a lot of mileage on our Authentic Jobs account, put our personal networks to good use, and ended up hiring eight new people. With the latest acceptance letter received weeks ago, Happy Cog has hit the 30-person mark, and we’re still not done; we’ve got a few designers to hire for the Austin office.

For those who don’t know us very well, Happy Cog got its start in 1999, founded by Jeffrey Zeldman working out of his apartment in Manhattan. Over the years, it has continued to grow slowly, with a big jump in 2006 when the Philadelphia office opened, and again in 2009 when the company merged with my studio, Airbag. When you add so many new people at once, the company feels slightly different with the extended range of personalities, backgrounds, and talents. It’s like “new kid day” at school, times ten.

After this latest round of hiring, we got all of that and a big bonus.

In a few days, our newest designer will begin her first day. When Dana crosses the threshold, the Happy Cog payroll will be 50% female. Roughly four years ago, that percentage was at a measly 12%. By next Monday, we will have women well-represented within our design, development, project management, and marketing groups—two of them dominantly female: project management with a whopping 80% and design with a stellar 63%.

While getting to 50/50 hasn’t been a primary objective, it is one of a few themes we strive towards in our hiring practice. In this last round of job openings, we didn’t seek or go out of our way to hire more women. Those we hired simply had better experience, personality, attitude, and professionalism. Though these appointments were deserved, I still felt we got lucky. It takes a lot of time and resources to find really great applicants, run them through a series of interviews, and hope that their references line up with the expectations they’ve set for us.

You can’t make well-rounded, creative, and analytical decisions in the workplace without having a well-rounded team. Our industry, including Happy Cog, has a long way to go before diversity is fully realized, but, for now, I consider us very fortunate to have a studio staffed 50/50. This feels like a big win. As a shop owner, this is one of those milestones you never think you’ll be able to achieve, and, yet, here we are.

It’s about damn time.

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