Humanity in Business: A feminist organizational chart
When I started bebo mia inc. over a decade ago, I knew I wanted to do business differently. I wanted every element of this social enterprise to change the world.
bebo mia was built to provide community – a brave community that embraced and supported and cheered for one another. Especially the outcasts. The folks that struggle to connect. The new mothers who are finding their way after having a baby, which can be a very lonely journey. The travelers and newcomers who are far from their people and communities. The queers who have to build chosen family because many of us are rejected from our families of origin, religions, teams and clubs, and local communities. The women who are quirky. I built this community to be everything I lacked and craved when I needed it.
bebo mia was built for healing. Healing our wounds that cloak our being. The hurt that makes us suffer as it bumps up against people, social media posts, harmful institutions, the patriarchy. Every member of the bebo mia team guides students and community members through the healing process which begins with acknowledging and identifying the harm we experience.
We talk about how our societies harm us through oppression and marginalization. How we are systematically broken down by every institution we come in contact with: school, the family, media, the judicial system, government, and the medical system. We are told we are fat, unworthy, selfish, financially illiterate, ugly, dumb, bad mothers, broken, dirty, bitchy, slutty, fridgid, poor, and needy. These words are harsh and hard to read. Yet, we ingest the messages reinforcing them at every turn; overtly & covertly.
interrupting the cycle
As we are learning to identify this harm that comes to us as women, trans and gender non-conforming folks, we can start questioning the beliefs and stories we carry in response to this harm. We can drop it. We can identify and reduce the amount we are triggered and charged in our days. We can start to love our bodies, our Black skin, our chests that feed tiny humans, our neurodiverse brains, our scars, our resilience, our bravery…ourselves. We can quickly identify when we are being guided back into complacency by these patriarchal methods of forcing us back into a struggle and a harmed state. This keeps us spinning, and numbing, and tired. On a cycle.
I knew I could be a part of global healing through a social justice movement rooted in humanity, dignity and love.
Over the next several months we are going to be sharing the ways that we are doing business differently! Let’s start with our
how it all started
In university, and for several years after, I worked for a well-known fitness apparel company that promised to do business differently. And, at first glance they did. There was a mindfulness library, they would pay for management to do ‘self-help’ programming (that after I attended, I discovered it was deeply dysfunctional and harmful), they offered in-store fitness services occasionally for staff, there was a ‘community board’ that got the neighbourhood businesses and services engaging in the store. Yet, I still was not treated as a human but rather a commodity. After winning my wrongful dismissal suit, I made notes of what I loved about working there and got really clear on where the harm came to me as an employee… and I was a darn good worker!
a org chart like no other
Building bebo mia inc. has been an incredible journey. It has been filled with mistakes and bumps and bruises and beautiful magic. Every year the team scans and reviews how things could be better. How we can feel better. How we can do better.
This year we made the decision to share the inner workings of our movement. We ran into the first challenge of how to clearly show the messy and wonderful inner workings of our team. There are standard organizational charts. They are flat, soulless, hierarchical, patriarchal and dehumanize the people that make up the organization. It was not a tool that was going to work for us As-Is. After months of brainstorming and listing the many parts we want to communicate, we have our first version of the bebo mia inc. Humanity in Business: A Feminist Organizational Chart.
Before we break it down, a note on citation:
We are sharing this business organizational tool because we see the good it can do in shifting businesses from an exploitive model to one of a generous, healing, feminist one. It is hard reimagining tools to smash the patriarchy. It takes time, and love, and finances, and a deep commitment to change. We did this work so folks could hit the ground running with their business and a solution to the major problem of business structures.
Here is our ask:
We want you to cite the bebo mia inc. team should you use this model, in part or in full, for your own business or teachings. Citation is a feminist practice. Throughout history, women and other equity seeking folks have been, and continue to be denied credit for their research, inventions, writing and work in general. Let’s make a collective commitment to not participate in this any further. Love this model? Feel free to use it! Again, ensure you cite bebo mia inc. Write to us if you have questions about this at [email protected].
Let’s look at the elements of this organizational chart:
It was important to us to communicate that we are a non-hierarchical organization. This is easier said than done. There are few to no examples of this successfully being implemented in businesses, so we are learning and more importantly, unlearning, as we go. The circles show the cycles and impacts of the many elements that drive our organization and movement. The people are represented by circles, our identities are represented by circles radiating from the team, the impact systems are spinning circles as well as the students and finances are pulsing and radiating circles, touching every part of the organization. Each one of the team members rotates around, driven by the impacting systems and students. No position is more important than another. No voice holds more weight over another.
The people that make up the team
bebo mia is a global movement. It is only as strong as the people who are the keepers of the space. The people are the most important part. The team is diverse and complicated and we are all cycling bodies. We have families, friends, pets, hobbies, accidents, illnesses, losses, celebrations, special days, holidays & spiritual practices, and bad days. Some of these we can plan for, and most we cannot. This is echoed with our HR policies and daily practices. We give double the Canadian legal leave for domestic violence, grief leave, and sick leave. Every team member creates their own schedule; taking into consideration live classes of course. The team is committed to carrying the load for folks that need to step back, even with same-day notice. Projects are put down if the team cannot sustain them, for any reason. We pivot, we protect one another’s time and wellness, we extend that protection to all the people that make up our team’s communities.
We have included a legend of the team’s identities. This is an important piece for us in bringing humanity and dignity into business. We are not just names on a chart. We all experience oppression and privilege, challenges, accomodations, chronic illness, invisible disabilities, children with special needs and so much more. This transparency also means that folks who access our community and programs can see folks with similar identities and may seek out support and connection from those team members.
We are beyond excited about this living, breathing organizational chart. This is not a static document. This is our first draft, if you will, of a tool that all businesses can use to add depth to their organization and movement.
If you have questions or feedback or would like to use this tool in your own business, organization or movement, please reach out to [email protected].
Next up… in September we will be sharing our Human Resources Policies and self-set schedules.
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