Building a Feminist Company: A Playbook by Goodlyffe
Companies consistently fail every group other than white men.
At Goodlyffe, we don’t want to fail women. In fact, we want to be a place where talented women come to thrive and do work that they love at a place where you feel good. And we even want to be a launching pad for women to generate their own ideas and build their own companies.
In short, we want to build a new kind of company that is feminist through and through.
Easier said than done, right?
Feminism at Goodlyffe
We are talking about feminism so we should explain what we mean. Is this just about women? What about other inequalities like race, other genders, sexual orientation? Feminism at Goodlyffe includes all forms of equality including all genders, races and sexual orientations.
The goal of feminism, in our view, is to:
- Create a system in which people are not selectively given power based some set of arbitrary characteristics (e.g. gender, race, sexual orientation)
- Reward people based on their contribution to their community, not (even implicitly) for abuse of power
- Ensure all people can flourish and live lives they love.
As founders, we know that there is always so much to do.
And rightly, most founders want to focus on the product and the customers.
We get that you care about gender equality and would like to set your company up the right way, but there’s hardly the time to think about even if you knew where to start!
What’s more, all the templates, examples and experience that are available to help you come from the existing model, a model that’s incredibly problematic:
- ship a product,
- get funded,
- grow as fast as you can,
- get funded again,
- figure out your business model at some point along the way whilst slowly and systematically handing over ownership of your company to already-rich white men and so the cycle continues…
We don’t identify with that model, and even if we did, we would care even more about creating a place for women to be able to thrive.
We have an advantage of sorts in that we’re just starting out so we can do it right from the start.
Large companies must try to change established policies and culture and the behaviours of many thousands of employees. That’s really hard. Maybe even impossible. At least to the level to which we’re aspiring.
We believe you need to build ‘being feminist’ into the fabric of your company.
But there are no templates for building a company in this way.
Some amazing work has been done by organisations like the Women’s Empowerment Principles working group and Gender Equality Principles Initiative to articulate frameworks for companies to consider. Understandably, these include proposals on what to consider when defining company policies but stop short of providing templates for the actual models and policies that new companies can work from.
All the examples of company structures, policies and practices that founding teams can use come from the model that perpetuates structural disadvantage. This doesn’t seem like an especially promising starting point to build a new kind of company.
So, here’s what we’re going to do. As we build Goodlyffe, we are going to define a set of policies and practices from first principles. We are going to do the work of talking to a diverse group of people who have tried it and people who have researched it to put together a detailed playbook on how to build a company with deeply feminist foundations.
Then we are going to make it freely available to everyone as a resource anyone founding a company can use. We’re excited about this and the value it could provide.
Along the way, we are going to blog the whole thing, one function at a time.
We are sure there are many people have put in a ton of great thought on how to build a company with feminist foundations and we want to learn from as many of you as we can. We want to hear about your experiences, lessons you’ve already learned, barriers and challenges you faced, and we want to know if you know someone else who has tried this,
Experimenting and learning are key to our company principles at Goodlyffe, and we are committed to taking advantage of this opportunity as we are building the company to try something new and help others to do the same. So, talk to us and let’s turn all our ideas on how to build a truly feminist company, where everyone can flourish and express themselves, into reality.
Are you a Founder? Are you a feminist? Or a feminist / gender equality researcher? Do you work for a feminist company? Do you have an opinion? Then we need to hear from you! contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us about your experiences!
Let’s get started.