Protea Financial was founded in 2014 to provide high quality out-sourced accounting at an affordable price. Given Protea’s flexible work environment, the Company especially appealed to accountants who wanted to re-enter the work force after taking time off to start a family. This allowed Protea to attract extremely talented individuals who were overlooked. Over 80% of both Protea’s leadership and accounting teams are women.
We selected the name Protea because is the national flower of South Africa and is a symbol of our connection. The Protea flower has become an ornamental flower because of this striking beauty and is included in arrangements and bouquets as a symbol of courage or daring to be better or a sign of positive transformation.
Protea Conversations focuses on successful woman in business and their achievements. The hope is that these conversations will create a forum to discuss the experiences, opportunities, and challenges women face, and how we can build a more diverse, inclusive, and successful environment for everyone.
This month we have a conversation with Wilder Clements. Wilder is the Principal Attorney and Founder of Clements Employment Law, P.C. Wilder is a labor and employment attorney focused on serving the needs of culture-first organizations and businesses and advises individuals who have been treated unfairly at work.
Wilder brings over a decade of labor and employment law practice to their law firm, which is LGBT owned. Wilder has been recognized as a Northern California SuperLawyer Rising Star.
Prior to starting their own firm, Wilder practiced labor and employment law as Senior Counsel at a major San Francisco Bay Area law firm. With clients ranging from large public agencies, to large healthcare providers, to start-ups and small businesses. Previously, Wilder served as counsel to the Berkeley Law Center on Health, Economic & Family Security, where they developed model legislation for national paid family leave. While attending Berkeley Law, Wilder served as a law clerk for the City and County of San Francisco and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Wilder was also a senior policy advocate the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C., where they lobbied Congress to extend workplace protections to LGBT people.
Wilder devotes a significant portion of their services to pro bono and sliding scale legal assistance, including representing asylum-seekers, advising local nonprofits on employment law issues, and assisting with criminal justice reform impact litigation. They are an active member of the Bar Association of San Francisco, the Sonoma County Bar Association, and the National LGBT Bar Association.
Originally from the Great Plains, Wilder maintains a deep love of the outdoors and wild, open space. When they are not practicing law, you can find them hiking a trail or camping in their Airstream or a tent with their family, usually somewhere in beautiful Sonoma County.
Tell us about your journey and how did it happened that you started Clements Employment Law, P.C.?
After I graduated from Berkeley Law with an emphasis in labor and employment law, I worked for a large firm in San Francisco. But my original roots are small town – my father, grandfather, and great grandfather were all small law firm practitioners in Nebraska. They also had other entrepreneurial enterprises. I always longed for the close connection they had with their clients and community. I wanted to take my significant experience and start a culture-first law firm that helps California businesses and workers thrive in the 21st century workplace. So, I took a risk to offer something I thought was missing in California labor and employment legal services: high quality counsel, transparent fees, and an eye towards putting people first, who are a company’s biggest asset.
I founded Clements Employment Law, P.C. on the desire and vision to provide high quality employment counsel to businesses and organizations committed to developing a positive, inclusive workplace culture.
What has been the biggest challenge you have experienced in reaching your current success (personally and professionally)?
Self-doubt and being willing to ignore the naysayers! Every risk I have ever taken has been worth it. Even when I “fail,” I learn something very valuable. It is very important to be in the right mindset to succeed as an entrepreneur.
What are your short-term goals of your career and yourself?
I want to continue to be a leader in offering high-quality, values-driven employment law counsel to California businesses and organizations. I want to educate business and Human Resources leaders about the importance of tending to organizational culture. A negative workplace culture is absolutely a legal liability for companies that do not tend to it. I want to take my significant background and knowledge of diversity, equity and inclusion to companies, while helping them with the day-to-day HR headaches that come up in California (wage and hour law, for example!).
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received that has helped you in your success?
It is ok to ask for help, especially during the multiple crises we have faced – wildfires, COVID-19. Everyone has their own struggle. It’s okay to share yours.
What is the piece of advice that you wished you had gotten when you were starting out?
Don’t obsess about your monthly financials. Plan quarterly. Have faith.
What advice you give to others to help them be better leaders?
At the end of the day, employees don’t remember what you say to them or what is in your employee handbook. They remember how you made them feel. From my perspective, most big legal employment problems first started out as a small problem. My strength is helping companies tend to those small problems so they do not cause financial and reputational issues down the line.
As a thank you to our interview and Protea’s commitment to more diverse and inclusive leaders, Protea will make a donation to Vital Voices (https://www.vitalvoices.org/). Vital Voices Global Partnership is a global movement that invests in leaders who are solving the world’s greatest challenges. They are “venture catalysts,” identifying those with a daring vision for change and partnering with them to make that vision a reality. They scale and accelerate impact through long term investments to expand skills, connections, capacity, and visibility. Over the last 22 years, we have built a network of 18,000 change-makers across 182 countries who are collectively daring to reimagine a more equitable world for all.
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