What might it be like to work in a feminist business?

At a book talk recently, a member of the audience asked if I could describe what work life might be like in a feminist business. As a group, we riffed on that question to explore what we’d like the world of work to be using the feminist values that were alive among that specific group of folks.

The conversation reminded me, though, of a document I sketched out years ago. Sitting by my fireplace one snowy afternoon in February of 2016 I free-wrote these ideas, below.

Do they sound like a worthy vision for a feminist business?

What We Believe About Working Together In A Feminist Business

All people are equal

All people are equally valuable

All people have an equal role in envisioning the future

We value the whole self: physical, spiritual, and emotional

Relational labor is productive labor

Parenting is valuable work

Care work is valuable work

Enabling and teaching others is valuable work

Care and performance both matter

Work, rest, and recreation all matter

Work needs to work with human nature not against it

Work should be designed to fit all of us, not just one “ideal worker”

All parts of our bodies need to be respected at work

What we create should be aligned with nature, both human nature and the earth

We respect the individual as an agent, not an object

Experience is valuable

We are accountable to the community and other individuals

We are aware of each person’s position, values, and politics

We are responsible and responsive to each other

Work and jobs are gender-neutral

We have truly genderless career paths

We don’t have or reinforce a masculine/feminine binary

We’re concerned with transforming gender roles, relationships, boundaries, and definitions

Our workplace should be physically and emotionally comfortable

Our workplace should be welcoming and feel inclusive to all

Our workplace should take care of our bodies

Work should be empowering

We support creativity and active problem-solving

We set our own definition of “success”

We want to change things and improve them

All forms of work matter, all work should be meaningful

Our work processes, work roles, and work systems have to be sustainable

Our work needs to contribute to the community

Our work must renew us even as we put ourselves into our work

We actively reflect on how our values and beliefs influence us

We question what it means to improve, succeed, contribute, perform

We grow in connection and through relationship with others

Our relationships are equitable

We’re accountable to others, we are mutually accountable

Our work relationships reflect empathy, love, and care

People aren’t widgets, they’re not substitutable for one another

We have an ethical commitment to others

We are cooperative

We seek agreement, consensus, and consent to make decisions

We ask for each other’s consent in an ongoing way versus contracting it just once

We participate in a way that builds relationships with others

Value is created collectively

Value should be shared among everyone who contributes

Everyone shares in the benefits and burdens of this organization

We acknowledge, expect, and value pluralism – that there are many views and experiences, all valid

We see our organization as part of a larger system that our organization needs to contribute to in positive ways

We are aware of the ecosystem around us

We take a holistic view: all issues are connected

Everything and everyone in the system matters

The health and flourishing of the larger community and the larger system matters

We work to support the whole system, not just what appears to fall within our boundaries

Leadership is an activity, not a personal quality

Organizations and activities can be decentralized because everyone can contribute and take responsibility

Hierarchy can be minimized because everyone can contribute and take responsibility

We emphasize the network, not just pairs of person-to-person relationship

We use our voices to share our experience and point of view

We advocate for what we believe is right

We are oriented towards a purpose

We have a big picture vision

We want to change how the world works to make it better

We want to bring about political emancipation – where people actively influence what happens versus passively risks or just respond

We don’t want to produce or profit from social inequality

We want to change the system

Every perspective is a perspective from somewhere in the system and it matters where perspectives come from

As an organization, we have active positive relationships with the community

We make a positive contribution to the community

We have a mutual relationship to the community

We have mutually supportive relationships with each other

We see our stakeholders as partners

We seek to create positive relationships between our organization and others

We want our company to be a positive influence on others

We focus on and value group process

We emphasize participation in democracy

We emphasize self-knowledge, self-disclosure, and honest constructive communication

Conflict can be healthy

We can be self organizing. No group, person, or role has power over others without collective consent

We create power with each other to work together

We value the personal development and learning of each individual

Work gets done through social relationships

We want to be empathic and compassionate in our interactions with each other

Everyone should have access to the tools they need

Tools should fit our bodies.

Tools should help our work not increase our work

Things take time. We respect the process