Decades ago “the personal is political” became a rallying cry for the second-wave feminist movement…the phrase itself being rallied around by everyone, while authorship of it was claimed by no one.
Today, we cannot deny that the professional has become personal and therefore political too.
Some might think the words “activist” and “leader” are oxymoronic outside the world of non-profits, foundations or advocacy organizations, but I disagree. And this column will a place to explore that tension and how it resolves.
Long before we all started getting a peek into the personal lives (and homes) of our co-workers via countless video calls, customers, co-workers, and employees were increasingly expecting to understand the personal and professional values of any relationship into which they poured time, energy, attention, influence, and dollars.
The trend that we (whether the customer-we, employee-we, or investor-we) care about and make decisions based on how a company espouses and manifests a set of core values has been growing since the turn of this 21st century.
When done right, you can astronomically grow your business by taking a stand.
When avoided or ignored, you can suffer employee walk-outs, social media storms, or customer boycotts.
While Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is one typical avenue for a company’s values to be expressed, it is also where, all too often, values are siloed, as though values aren’t part of your real business. Similarly, Diversity and Inclusion efforts are often siloed into the hiring process, without being deeply integrated into a company’s culture
Enough of that.
Now is the time for leaders at every level to think about what it would look like to have their values integrated across all the normal day to day operations of your team, department, division, and company. Now is the time to de-silo to de-risk.
Of course there’s nothing wrong with truly impactful CSR initiatives or truly inclusive hiring requirements, but there’s also nothing wrong with thinking beyond the CSR initiative to concoct plans to do good while doing business and serve a mission while serving customers.
That’s my beat. I’ve long hated the phrase Work-Life Balance because only women were ever asked to comment on it. (Side note: If you’re interviewing a male leader, ask him how he manages to do it all…I always do when I interview men, and it will be the one totally unrehearsed and raw answer you get, because no one usually asks them!)
But ever since co-authoring my book Road Map for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Activism, and Advocacy for All, I’ve been all about the term Life-Work-Activism Integration. The COVID19 pandemic has just accelerated everyone joining me there.
The Activist Leader will be bringing you strategies and suggestions on how to achieve that integration. And stories of values in action.
Strategies to transform policies and procedures.
Suggestions about little changes that make a big difference.
Stories about re-imagining a supply chain. Or how you hire customers (!) Or what the latest research says about which kinds of moves seem opportunistic, and which seem authentic.
So, let’s go. Let’s make that better workplace and better world we dream of!
How are you an Activist Leader?