When I was first starting out online, I witnessed an influential woman using her platform to boost the signals of others (including mine).
She tweeted people all day every day and every week, she profiled someone her audience didn’t (yet) know on her blog.
She created a list of professionals she recommended and posted it on her site. This was a career-changer for lots of people.
Personally speaking, she invited me to events with her and introduced me to people who could hire me.
Gloria Steinem apparently does this too — I’ve read that whenever she’s speaking somewhere or invited to an event, she brings along young feminists with her so they can make connections and get known.
This informal mentor of mine was public as someone who believed in women and invested in her community and I can tell you from personal experience that she did even more of that behind the scenes.
I know the impact of this, first-hand, and it taught me something important.
I explicitly resolved to do this, too. (I’ve written about the importance of hiring our community members **before** they’re famous or successful.)
Even when I wasn’t making money but I was getting attention, I used what I had — my social media reach — to invest in community members.
A while ago I was interviewed by Morra Aarons-Mele (Women & Work) for her Hiding In The Bathroom podcast and she described a way we could do even MORE of that kind of investing — not just with attention and sharing — within our community.
I also want to point out she knew I existed and invited me to speak because a mutual friend introduced me to her. This is exactly what I’m talking about: we help each other rise.
She told me about a recruiting agency founded by women. They interview people at lunch and at coffee, which means they spend a lot of their business money in restaurants. They specifically resolved to do that at restaurants and coffee shops that were owned by women and minorities.
A lightbulb went off in my head. I own an online company which means most of my overhead spend goes to software and apps. Still, I could do what that HR agency did. I could resolve to select my providers based on functionality and feminist criteria.
If you’re an online business, there’s an opportunity here for you, too.
Let’s say you need a social media scheduler. You’re comparing three or four options for their functionality. You could also look at their team or org chart to see if there are people of colour and women in executive leadership positions (and, and, and).
You could make a list of things that matter to you and try to select providers that you WANT to invest in.
To help me do this when I’m comparing new apps and software, I made a matrix of all the functionality and feminist criteria I’m looking for. Then I fill it out for all my options.
(I included this matrix in the toolkit of my social media workshop, too, so that participants had something to help them get started on this.)
- Sometimes I have to choose the least offensive option. (In these cases I remind myself of something Rebecca Solnit says about voting: it’s not a valentine.)
- Sometimes I get to choose an option that makes my heart sing.
It’s a simple step when you’re selecting apps and providers, and it helps us invest in our communities, and it builds feminist business practices into the day-to-day structure of your business.
You can do this when you’re choosing new software AND you can review the existing providers in your business and see if they’re still the best fit (a lot of mine aren’t, so I’ve got some work in front of me…iterate, iterate, iterate).
We have a lot of power (sometimes more than we even recognize) and this is one of the ways we can use it to grow ourselves and our communities.
Seeking to invest in what you want to grow is a simple and important thing to do in our businesses.
Because together we rise.