Why I Mentioned No to Being Referred to as CEO


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

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Once I began Seam Social Labs in 2018, my objective was to attempt to discover a method to construct a enterprise as impactful to our as , however solely targeted on neighborhood empowerment. It took me eighteen months of buyer discovery to understand the answer would begin as co:census, (i.e., our first portfolio product devoted to creating positive voices are heard way of the lens of qualitative information). 

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

I self-identify as an Afro-Latina girl. This id shouldn’t be primarily based on the indigenous heritage of , 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 in opposition to the title of the Superbowl runner-up Kansas Metropolis Chiefs. Not too long ago, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson stated, “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 harm and offensive, intentional marginalization.” 

Once I selected the title of Head of Technique, my stance was primarily based 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 wrong. American Indian leaders had been 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 Publish” opinion piece responding to the Mayor a reader wrote: “There isn’t any motive to consider that this phrase was ever supposed to imply something apart from its definition: ‘a pacesetter or ruler of a folks or clan.’  There may be 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 in opposition to native leaders. As a enterprise founder targeted on neighborhood empowerment, something that’s nonetheless being determined upon a whole neighborhood, is price cautious consideration. No title, model title or image is definitely 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 you need to take a look at the whole lot with new eyes. 

A title that displays my territory

Considered one of my largest objectives in creating this firm is to indicate that we are able to decolonize the methods we’ve created. This requires dialog and difficult the assumptions that we have now traditionally had. In the event you’re on the lookout 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 conscious about how a lot tradition shifts, language adjustments and habits remodel over time. My hope is that Seam Social Labs hires individuals who know they will convey their full tradition and selves as added worth to our enterprise. 

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