The following is one of six case studies on Feminist Leadership from the FAIR SHARE team in our latest publication Leading for Change. Explore the rest as well as 10 case studies from Committed Organisations.
If only it were so easy to simply label your organisation feminist to make an actual difference in everyday life. As it turns out, practising Feminist Leadership is hard work. Dismantling power structures or applying principles such as accountability and transparency requires a conscious and continuous effort, both individual and collective, to reflect on and deconstruct organisational culture and our very own impact on it.
At FAIR SHARE, we reached the conclusion that Feminist Leadership is at the core of our organisational DNA. We all agree it should not be treated like an agenda point you talk about only when there is time left or that is dragged from meeting to meeting for lack of urgency. You guessed it already: this ideal is far from reality and our small team has fallen prey to being “too busy” to Feminist Leadership time and time again. Knowing our fast-paced projects, endless to-do lists and our cramped schedules, the day when no one is busy will simply not arrive. It is a classic NGO tale as old as time. However, no change at all will ever come from this attitude, and this is just not how we roll.
Our current approach is to plan and dedicate time during working hours and to institutionalise our learning experiences by having regular team days and journaling exercises. Each of us has a notebook specifically for writing down our observations of Feminist Leadership as we experience them within the team. Occasionally, we also invite an external coach who facilitates team discussions to give us dedicated time for reflection. There is always more we could be doing, but this is our starting point and we are curious to see how this approach plays out. Testing new and unconventional methods for the issues we face as a team, and learning from the mistakes and frustrations that happen along the way, is always better than lingering in doubt and feeling stuck.
Feminist Leadership is not an aspirational goal, it is a process and a learning journey that cannot be sidelined – so our aim is to get into the daily habit of working with a feminist lens. When planning, making decisions, reflecting, Feminist Leadership will always be present, so that it is less of a cherry on top of our work, but rather the foundation for all our doing and thinking. To be continued.
Explore more experiences, insights and learnings from our team and 10 leading social impact organisations.