In my work with businesses and leaders, I practice an expansive, radically inclusive feminism.

Our feminist practice asks us to address all systems of oppression, using our understanding of gendered, racialized, and classed dynamics to work for a world where all people, all living creatures, and our planet can flourish.

Feminist businesspeople understand that all systems of oppression — especially sexism, White supremacy, settler colonialism, heterosexism, ableism, nativism, and capitalism —  reflect the same fundamental lie: that some humans are better than others, that some humans deserve more than others, that some humans should profit by controlling and taking from others.

We believe that the practice of feminism calls us to support the leadership of many different activists and movement groups. Especially now, we reaffirm our commitments to support, to act with, and to learn from the leadership of the #BlackFeminists activists at the heart of BLM/M4BL.

 

A feminist business embraces all forms of anti-oppression work.

A feminist business is an anti-racist business.

A feminist business is an anti-homophobia business.

A feminist business fights White supremacy and settler colonialism.

A feminist business supports indigenous reconciliation.

A feminist business pays employees life-sustaining wages and pays investors fair returns.

A feminist business establishes “success” and “value” on its own terms, with the needs of all in mind.

A feminist business pursues social justice and financial return, unwilling to sacrifice either goal.  ”

 

We are in the midst of a tremendous, accelerating call for social change.

Businesses and business people must respond. Because business sets political, social, and cultural priorities and shapes our daily personal and community lives, business is a critical place for us to focus our advocacy for justice.

Ideas that conventional business people dismissed as “too radical” are now being taken seriously.  Universal Basic Income. A Citizen’s Dividend.  Defunding the Police.  Indigenomics. Social finance reform.  All around us we hear and are participating in a growing discussion of how to promote social equity in business.

It’s long been suggested that we invest  in businesses owned and led by womxn from all identity  groups, by marginalized men, and by all marginalized people. Certainly, expanding the diversity of business owners and leaders is important for increasing the representation of all people in our economy. Along with increasing representation, other progressive business initiatives, like social enterprise, triple bottom line businesses, cooperatives, and sustainability are each important to social justice.

However, we understand that a feminist business approach, one that includes and incorporates all of these progressive initiatives, will help us transform business to support the society, the economy, and the collectively-flourishing life we imagine.

The uprisings of the last few weeks have brought forward a long overdue recognition that each of us and every business must take explicit action to fight anti-Blackness and racism.

Where does this put us as members of a feminist business community? How does being part of a feminist initiative help us and our businesses participate in these efforts?

Feminists, and especially feminists who are white, must speak even more clearly to promote a full-fledged, inclusive, expansive, embracing feminist analysis — and right now especially, to promote the mutually-reinforcing, mutually dependent understanding of oppression and liberation celebrated by #BlackFeminism.

A feminist business embraces all forms of anti-oppression work.

A feminist business is an anti-racist business.

A feminist business is an anti-homophobia business.

A feminist business fights White supremacy and settler colonialism.

A feminist business supports indigenous reconciliation.

A feminist business pays employees life-sustaining wages and pays investors fair returns.

A feminist business establishes “success” and “value” on its own terms, with the needs of all in mind.

A feminist business pursues social justice and financial return, unwilling to sacrifice either goal.  

We believe that a feminist approach helps any business and especially womxn-led/owned businesses succeed not simply because this approach helps you run your business better. We believe that a feminist business approach creates space for you as founders and for your businesses to experiment and explore so that instead of reinforcing an oppressive status quo you’ll work to change it. Because a feminist approach helps you understand how to address a full range of social equity challenges, you and your company will be able to lead the business response to society’s imperatives.

A feminist business embraces all forms of anti-oppression work.

This conviction is why Petra and I and others are working with a feminist business accelerator, why Lex and others are working to support feminist founders, and why many other feminists are ramping up their commitment to feminist business practice.

In our work, feminist business people make space for the conversations we need to have about focusing on social justice as a business. We investigate the role that confronting not just gender but all forms of oppression can play in designing products, services, operational policies, organizational norms, leadership styles, and outcomes. We believe that these conversations around gendering and radical inclusivity/intersectionality/ multiple systems of oppression develop our capacity to address any form of injustice.

Even more, these conversations open up our minds and hearts in ways that lead us and our companies to new ideas, product or service innovation opportunities, new markets, relationships and differentiators that are impossible to imitate and that are critical to creating a just economy.

The feminisms we draw from today are rooted in a deep legacy of thinking, practice, leadership and wisdom.  These ideas and practices reflect the experiences and the vision of (at least) half the world’s population. They are appropriate to — maybe even purpose-built– for the imperatives we face today.

Of course, feminism is just one of many movements focused on equality, equity and social justice. Many social movements can and should inform what business leaders and companies do now and what they do next. It’s important to remember that feminist uses an analysis of gender and sex-focused oppression to expose the pattern of all oppression, exposing the lie that any one group of humans should have power over other groups.

Feminism uses the vision of gender and sex equality to promote the fundamental human truth: that all people are equally valuable, all people and communities have the right to decide how their lives should unfold, and all people equally deserve to flourish.

Feminism is not the only social movement that can serve as a good teacher to business. However, while feminism intersects with and embraces almost all progressive movements, feminism remains the only movement that insists we value men/males, women/females, and people of every gender as equals, as equally human and worthy of care.

All of us are on different learning paths when it comes to thinking about how social justice and business fit together.  We start from different positions. We benefit from different privileges. We are hampered by different experiences of a range of systemic oppressions. We have different cultures, personalities, and visions to express. We will take different routes as we push for work, jobs, businesses, products, services, and an economy that is anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-colonialist, anti-extraction, and anti-any oppression.

We understand that all of us feminists — entrepreneurs, all founders, all business owners, all mentors/consultants/coaches, all employees, all investors — will need to engage in deep personal work and organizational leadership work.  Business people and companies who do this work will respond to society’s clear call for equality. And, they will create more capable and stronger businesses that move use towards flourishing for all.

(Thanks to Petra Kassun-Mutch for her help in scoping out this post.)