Why I Stated No to Being Referred to as CEO

An organization president rejects the troublesome title of “chief”.

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After I began Seam Social Labs in 2018, my purpose was to attempt to discover a technique to construct a enterprise as impactful to our tradition as Amazon, however solely centered on group empowerment. It took me eighteen months of buyer discovery to comprehend the answer would begin as co:census, (i.e., our first portfolio product devoted to creating positive voices are heard via the lens of qualitative knowledge). 

Now that that enterprise is up and operating, one query that I’ve gotten is about my title as firm chief.

I’m not the Chief Government Officer, or “CEO”, of Seam Social Labs. I’m the Head of Technique. In truth, our firm doesn’t have a CEO. I’m each job description associated to a Chief Government Officer, however I particularly selected a unique time period as a result of I needed to consider the impression of titles in company buildings. 

I self-identify as an Afro-Latina girl. This identification shouldn’t be based mostly on the indigenous heritage of America, however I perceive the way it feels to be oppressed and silenced.

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Historical past of the phrase “chief”

Over the previous few years, I researched conflicting opinions on this time period. From a metropolis dropping “chief” from it’s job titles, to protests towards the identify of the Superbowl runner-up Kansas Metropolis Chiefs. Lately, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson mentioned, “the town will vote subsequent week to take away the phrase ‘chief’ from metropolis job titles in order that we have now extra inclusive management and fewer language that’s rooted in damage and offensive, intentional marginalization.” 

After I selected the title of Head of Technique, my stance was based mostly on the phrase “chief” and the restricted illustration of indigenous communities, total. 

From the web site Native Circle: “[Chief] is a phrase that’s generally given as a nickname which incorrectly labels Native American males. The time period ‘chief’ itself is inaccurate. American Indian leaders had been by no means ‘chiefs’, however headmen, or clan moms, and so forth. Not ‘chiefs’… Being referred to as ‘chief’ carries with it the identical insulting, belittling sting for a Native man as being referred to as ‘boy’ does for African American males.”

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In a “Washington Put up” opinion piece responding to the Mayor a reader wrote: “There isn’t any motive to imagine that this phrase was ever supposed to imply something apart from its definition: ‘a pacesetter or ruler of a individuals or clan.’  There’s merely nothing offensive or marginalizing concerning the phrase. Its use goes again so far as round 1300, when in Previous French, it meant just about the identical factor because it does now.”

Traditionally this phrase has been used as one to outline management, but it surely’s additionally been used as a slur towards native leaders. As a enterprise founder centered on group empowerment, something that’s nonetheless being determined upon by a whole group, is value cautious consideration. No title, model identify or image is well worth the hurt of negatively impacting a tradition.  If 2020 has taught anybody something, particularly for individuals who didn’t work within the inclusion house, it’s that it’s important to have a look at every part with new eyes. 

A title that displays my territory

One in every of my greatest objectives in creating this firm is to point out that we are able to decolonize the methods we’ve created. This requires dialog and difficult the assumptions that we have now traditionally had. If you happen to’re searching for the chance to work at an organization that challenges these assumptions? Hey, we’ll be hiring within the subsequent few months. 

As a sociologist, I’m aware of how a lot tradition shifts, language adjustments and habits remodel over time. My hope is that Seam Social Labs hires individuals who know they’ll deliver their full tradition and selves as added worth to our enterprise. 

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