Lex writing here, eager to share what emerged from our first #FeministsAtWork salon! Last night, 25 of us met up at Idealist (thank you Idealist for hosting us!) and ended up having a wide ranging conversation on everything from the roots of the concept of intersectionality (thank you Stacy-Marie Ishmael for naming and weaving this in!) to some really bad/blatantly sexist experiences at work to feminist practices we’re already using to support ourselves and support others at work and in the world.
We had two goals for the conversation:
a) to set a foundation for an ongoing conversation through #feministsatwork
b) leave with something we can use and share
So, a reminder of the original prompt and then some notes on what emerged below. (Scroll to the end for information on next steps!)
The invitation: We’re asking that you bring an example of an action you’ve tried, a situation you’ve have faced, or an opportunity that you’ve have identified, to put feminist ideas into practice at work.
And here’s what we came up with below. A reminder: these practices below are not intended to be prescriptive! They are a community sourced list of things we are already doing that we are offering up. They are ready for experimenting/running with.
- consider whether it’s necessary to apologize for your behavior in work situations (some of us tend to over-apologize for no reason)
- name sexism when/where it happens, name it for/mention it to a colleague if they don’t recognize it for what it is and are automatically questioning themselves instead
- use good meeting practices to make sure all voices get heard/people have a chance of speaking up
- use data to argue your case for change
- take what you can from a less than great/bad work situation (milk it for what it’s worth)
- resist the temptation to internalize work too much
- ask for more money
- celebrate fatherhood (re work/life balance, flex work schedules, gender)
- tell someone something they don’t know about sexism, feminism, change
- leave what doesn’t serve you
- don’t “over-give”
- don’t make it about “you vs. [someone else/blank]”, make it about “us vs. bad behaviors that don’t help”
- be the boss
- create a kind of glass wall protective barrier to protect yourself mentally/emotionally in sexist workplaces
- insert yourself into clusters of men and participate and/or purposefully shift the dynamic
- promote items in the org mythology that promote feminism
- find comfort and ideas in allies
- have friends and colleagues who can acknowledge when something sexist/unjust happens and tell you it is so
- “when someone else doesn’t recognize your work, you need to be responsible for making it recognizable”
- fund the changes you want to see
- power imbalance due to age difference
- class difference, boss asserts position of class superiority, makes for unpleasant work situation
- most newspapers/mags still have ad-based funding models, and we know advertising is sexist, gender imbalanced, unjust – so where do we go from here?
- nonprofit organizational/biz model makes for un-feminist, really challenging workplaces – how do we tackle this?
- “how do we teach each other about feminism, knowing we are all growing and imperfect?”
- “let’s fantasize about what a feminist workplace would be, what we WOULD do”
- what does it mean to be a man?
- how do we take care of ourselves in a sexist work environment?
- “sexism is not just about personalities, it’s about organizational norms and systems”
- “I think of respect as a kind of human right”
- men and women think differently sometimes
- talking about this stuff requires willingness to experience discomfort
- would be good to have conversation specifically focusing on challenges/opportunities in nonprofit context
- “don’t have the vocabulary around this”
- how do we take feminism beyond “the individual”, beyond a conversation about individual advancement in the workplace?
What’s next? It’s up to all of us to decide. CV wrote up a list of 12 ways to keep the conversation moving, that’s a great place to start. Please check it out and share your thoughts!
One thing we especially want to invite is for folks to take a look at the list above, pick a topic, and write a piece… Or you can always make a short video. If you don’t publish it elsewhere, we’ll get it up here on the blog. Email me if you need editing support firstname.lastname@example.org.