This post is excerpted from an article originally published on Everyday Feminism.
I’ve been lucky in my life to have had some really good bosses. Then again, I’ve also had the extremely good fortune to work for a lot of feminists. Unfortunately, lots of folks don’t work with bosses who want to treat them well. For too many people, going to work is mentally taxing, emotionally exhausting, and otherwise soul crushing. But there’s a better way to lead. And it’s called feminist leadership. Here are five ways to lead as a feminist — no matter what work you do.
1. Practice What You Preach
According to CREA (Creating Resources in Action), feminist leaders “will strive to make the practice of power visible, democratic, legitimate, and accountable, at all levels, and in both private and public realms.”
Leaders should shape policies that place value on employee satisfaction over corporate success. They should try their best to ensure that members of an organization feel respected and valued. They should build diverse and inclusive spaces at work, keep operations transparent, and acknowledge the needs and desires of everyone their decisions impact.
Feminist leadership can take on a lot of shapes, encompass a lot of work styles, and shake up lots of different kinds of workplaces. But it always needs to be about leaders upholding a feminist ethos — and living it every day in their own work.
2. Redefine “Success” and “Hard Work”
For too long, the measure of a good employee has been how much they are willing to toil, sacrifice, and put in for the “greater good” of a company; how much money they bring in; how many hard metrics they hit each month; and how alike they can make themselves to the company’s established leaders. And for too long, the most valued employees have been those who fit homogenous molds, who do things they ways they’ve always been done, and who uphold the status quo.
A feminist leader knows that a workplace is sustainable only when its members have control over their own lives and the sense of balance they need to keep it in motion. They give their employees control over their schedules to allow them to fit in their personal needs as well as their professional requirements each day. Additionally, they strive to shape a work culture in which human needs are seen as equally important to the organization’s goals.
By shaping their workplaces according to the needs and wants of their team, a feminist leader is subverting the norm of our professional culture that tells us what we need to be in order to succeed. Instead, feminist leadership is about fostering workplaces where everyone feels valued, fulfilled, and visible.