Taking a stand on important issues as a conscious entrepreneur
Reproductive rights and bodily autonomy are essential elements of social justice. without social justice, there can be no true environmental justice.
As a conscious business owner / brand, your stance and actions around these issues matter.
In the wake of Roe vs. Wade being overturned, during Pride month & shortly after Juneteenth no less, many business owners are faced with the challenge of addressing (or not) highly politicized issues. With that, come many questions, namely how to take a stand in a thoughtful, helpful and inclusive way as a conscious business owner or a conscious brand. Let’s dive into all of that!
WHY IS REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE SO IMPORTANT?
SisterSong, a collective fighting for reproductive justice for women of color, defines it as “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.”
Reproductive rights, and bodily autonomy in general, are essential elements of human rights and social justice in particular. And without social justice, there can be no true environmental justice.
Why? Because whether it’s reproductive rights, social justice or environmental justice, historically marginalized and oppressed groups (namely BIPOC & LGBTQ+ communities) and low-income communities are disproportionately affected.
So, yes, Roe vs. Wade being overturned is a major threat on the personhood of birthing people / people with uteruses, especially those who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color. But the issue goes beyond abortion rights:
It is a reminder of just how fragile our rights are, how quickly our humanity and autonomy can be revoked.
Just head to Twitter for proof. It is currently filled with politicians & individuals calling for other human rights to be tackled next (like bringing back segregation, banning same-sex marriage, etc.).
But just as things can change for the worse, they can also be changed for the better. Many activists and organizations are fighting for better reproductive rights and social justice. It is inspiring to see and gives us hope in these dark times. The question is… what will you do as a conscious entrepreneur?
HOW TO TAKE A STAND AS A CONSCIOUS BUSINESS OWNER OR BRAND
As conscious entrepreneurs, it can be hard to know when and how to take a stand and on what issues.
Here are a few tips to help you figure out what makes sense for you and your brand:
First, focus inward:
Take time to process / Complex, exhausting feelings may come up, rest and take extra care of yourself if you need to.
Do your research / Learn more about the issue at hand (the history attached to it, what communities are most affected, etc.), find credible sources to follow, learn from and amplify, organizations to donate to, etc.
Look within your business / What processes are already in place to make sure you are creating an inclusive and supportive workspace? Do you need to update anything? For instance, several major companies in the US have stated they will provide financial support for employees seeking abortions out of state.
Once you’ve done that, you can start to shift your focus towards your communication:
Decide how important this issue is to you, your brand and/or your audience and why
You may choose to not tackle each issue in the same way or as thoroughly and that’s ok.
Determine what you want to put in place
From simply sharing credible resources & information in stories or posts, to issuing an official statement (in the name of your brand, or your own) on your social media / website / newsletter… You can be more or less vocal about different issues.
Some of the things you can share and post about include: helpful & educational resources, organizations and funds to donate to, useful articles to read from credible sources, educational content from reliable creators (like this reel by Blair Imani on Roe vs. Wade), advice to keep your audience safe (ex: when protesting, when using a period tracker, when on the internet)
On a personal note: don’t forget to be registered to vote (for my fellow Americans abroad, here’s the link to request your ballot – be sure to put in your request well ahead of the November elections & check the deadlines for your home state)
Some additional pieces of advice to keep in mind:
Be able to back up your stance with concrete examples of how you are taking action.
For example: you & your team are participating in protests, donating to organizations working hard to defend this issue, volunteering for organizations, developing partnerships with organizations, activists & content creators who share your values and stance on this issue…
Before posting, especially on highly polarizing, politicized issues, have guidelines in place on how to deal with potential backlash, haters & trolls, especially on social media.
It’s best to be prepared for different scenarios and reactions. Some of the things I put in place with clients include: pre-crafting responses for potential critiques (with links to resources, credible sources, etc. – preferably keeping the tone civil), having a clear zero tolerance policy for hate/violent speech in the comments and reporting accounts that comment or send you hateful, threatening messages.
Make sure your actions and statements are inclusive and considerate!
For instance, when it comes to reproductive rights and abortion in particular, talking about it being an issue for women exclusdes trans men and non-binary individuals, while also marginalizing women (cis or trans) who may not have a uterus or the ability to get pregnant.
Similarly, not everyone in your audience may be US-based or aware of the issue at hand, so it’s important not to assume people know the same information you do.
It’s always a good idea to take some time to make sure you’ve considered different angles and communities so as to avoid offending or excluding anyone accidentally.
Taking a stand on highly sensitive issues can be intimidating, and even expose your brand to backlash. But not taking a stand can be just as damaging, from losing the trust and support of your audience to being called out for not speaking up or for speaking up without taking action.
My recommendation is to first look within yourself and your business to determine what you want to do, why, how and when before communicating. Make sure you can walk the walk (or show concretely how you are planning to), not just talk the talk.
It may take some trial and error to figure out what works for you. But showing your audience what you care about, and that you do in fact care and take action… that is beyond worth it!
I’ll leave you with these words from Gabaccia Moreno, Executive Director of The Outdoorist Oath, in their latest newsletter titled “For birthing folks and our allies…”:
“Remember we have each other, a strong community working for our people and our planet. If anything I’ve learned from my Indigenous relatives is that when we hurt the land hurts, and when the land hurts we hurt. Let’s focus on the healing part, let’s continue to seek and create the pockets of joy, of safety, and of hope.”
For additional resources & information on reproductive justice, organizations and funds to support, abortion help and more, I compiled this list:
The resources listed are mainly US-based for now but the list will grow as I find new resources to share. Feel free to email me if you have any suggestions of additional resources to incorporate.