Are the principles of Feminism and Business mutually exclusive, or can they be woven into the fabric of a small business? Let’s dig into this important question:
To begin, we have to define Feminism. A dictionary would tell us something to the effect of: social + political + economic + legal equality for women and men. But we all know it’s so much more than that. We can’t refer only to sex while skipping the inclusion of race, sexuality, gender, location in the world, nature, culture, ETC. It’s layered and multiple and different depending on who’s speaking, and it’s HEAVY, as in you can’t just throw it around, put it on a cheerful t-shirt and call it a day. It’s always in flux.
For Cardea AuSet, a small, young, woman-owned business, we adopted a few principal strategies to ensure that we’re living our feminist values both personally and professionally. So how can a regular person try to incorporate feminist principles into their business? Here are two pillars that we use to guide our work:
INVEST IN YOUR COMMUNITY
This is a great place to start, and should reflect your capacity and giving ability. From the early stages of visioning our business, we’d talked so much about what organizations, groups, and causes we would want to support. Events and causes that celebrate women’s leadership, emphasize mental and spiritual wellness, provide family planning and reproductive choice, and raise funds for survivors of sexual violence are all worthy causes that create positive community impact. While start-ups and small businesses like ours don’t always have the financial capacity to give dollars, there are so many ways that giving can happen. Donations in-kind, advocacy, volunteering, or sharing a message on social media are all helpful and actionable steps that small businesses can take toward supporting an organization or cause, and giving back to the community that sustains them.
BE MINDFUL OF YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
We’ve all witnessed the floating piles of garbage and trash that wash up on the beaches of countries around the world, and we’ve seen the impact of single-use plastics. As a business that produces a physical product, this challenges us to be extremely mindful of the format and style of our packaging. Our packaging is both reusable and recyclable: glass bottles + recyclable paper boxes. While this makes our shipments heavier and more fragile, it’s a very small price to pay for reduced plastic consumption in a world where everyone – and often the most vulnerable – bears the cost of environmental crisis. If you own a business that creates physical products, consider doing an annual assessment of your plastic use and waste management practices. What are you using for product and shipping packaging? Are you recycling? Are you properly disposing of hazardous goods? Is your office ordering takeout everyday and trashing the containers? We can all take small steps toward environmental sustainability.
A feminist business doesn’t just come about by using certain language (although that can be important, too!) or posting an inspirational quote on Instagram; you need be specific in your tactics and application. If you’re unsure of where to start, consider the two pillars we use, and adapt them in a way that makes sense to you and your business. We’ve found that by simply asking some key questions around community and environmental impact, we were able to lay a feminist foundation within our small business. We hope you can do the same 🙂
Jennifer Bonato, NLSW Committee Member and Co-Founder of CardeaAuset