Why I Stated No to Being Known as CEO
A company president rejects the annoying title of “boss”.
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March 2, 2021 4 min read
The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur’s contributors are their own.
When I started Seam Social Labs in 2018, my goal was to find a way to build a company that would be as impactful on our culture as Amazon, but one focused solely on empowering the community. It took me eighteen months to realize that the solution would begin as a co-census (i.e. our first portfolio product designed to ensure that voices are heard through the lens of qualitative data).
Now that business is up, one question I got is about my title of business manager.
I am not the chief executive officer or “CEO” of Seam Social Labs. I am the head of strategy. In fact, our company doesn’t have a CEO. I’m any job description that relates to a chief executive officer, but I specifically chose a different term because I wanted to think about the impact of titles on corporate structures.
I identify myself as an Afro-Latina woman. This identity is not based on America’s indigenous heritage, but I understand what it feels like to be suppressed and silenced.
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History of the word “boss”
Over the past few years, I’ve researched conflicting opinions on this term. From a town where “Chief” was removed from their job titles to protests against the name of the Superbowl runner-up Kansas City Chiefs. Recently, Emily Larson, Mayor of Duluth said, “The city will vote next week to remove the word” boss “from the city’s job titles so that we can have more inclusive leadership and less language on hurtful and offensive, deliberate marginalization is based. ”
When I chose the title of Head of Strategy, my stance was based on the word “boss” and the overall limited representation of indigenous communities.
From the Native Circle website: “[Chief] is a word commonly given as a nickname that incorrectly designates Native American men. The term “boss” itself is wrong. Indian leaders were never “chiefs”, but chiefs or clan mothers and so on. Not ‘chiefs’ … To be called a ‘chief’ has the same insulting, degrading pang for a native as it does for African-Americans as a “boy”. “
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In a Washington Post statement to the Mayor, one reader wrote: “There is no reason to believe that this word should ever mean anything other than its definition:“ leader or ruler of a people or clan. ”There is simply nothing Insulting or marginalizing about the word. Its use dates back to around 1300, when it meant pretty much the same thing in Old French as it does now. “
Historically, this word was used to define leadership, but it was also used as a bow against native leaders. As a business founder focused on community empowerment, anything that remains to be decided by an entire community is worth careful consideration. No title, brand name, or icon is worth the harm of negatively affecting a culture. If 2020 has taught anyone anything, especially those who have not worked in the inclusion space, then everything has to be looked at with new eyes.
A title that reflects my territory
One of my biggest goals in starting this company is to show that we can decolonize the systems we have created. This requires discussion and questioning the assumptions that we have made in the past. If you’re looking for a way to work for a company that challenges those assumptions? Hey, we’ll be hiring in the next few months.
As a sociologist, I am very aware of how much culture, language changes and habits change over time. I hope Seam Social Labs will hire people who know they can bring their entire culture and themselves to add value to our business.
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