Any conversation about core values needs to involve talking about the systems in which our values operate. It’s like a company that decides that one of its values is diversity but hasn’t hired any BIPOC employees because they aren’t a “good fit” and haven’t examined what “fit” means.
So what are some of the systems in which our values can be embedded?
- White Supremacy Culture
This doesn’t mean that there is anything malicious happening, rather there are sets of assumptions that we often take for granted. It’s hard to see these assumptions. Tema Okun so helpfully outlined characteristics of white supremacy culture. It blew my mind to think about the ways that these characteristics and values were a part of the way that I think about the world.
In her recent What Works Podcast, Tara McMullin points this phenomena out:
we take existing systems and ways of working for granted and then find ways to operate in those conventions to make us feel like we are honoring our values instead of getting clear on what actually honoring our values looks like and then deciding whether we can participate in existing systems and ways of working or whether we need to create something altogether new.
So let’s think about what it means to think of collaboration as a core value, one of LBI Backstage Pass’. Individualism is a characteristic of both white supremacy culture and patriarchy. So what does it mean to value collaboration in a world where “where cooperation is valued, little time or resources are devoted to developing the skills in how to cooperate.” I mean, who had the opportunity to learn how to do group projects well? Or value group projects?
In a 2017 study, Warhuus, Tangaaard, Robinson, and Jensen point to the differences between I and We Paradigms in entrepreneurial education. Here I’ve modified it for collaboration
Collaboration is for everyone and is part of everyday life for most of us. Every person has collaborative potential.
Collaboration is relational and distributed. It is culturally situated, meaning different things in different situations and social practices, and it is collectively achieved even when individuals get outcomes alone.
The I paradigm is aligned with the idea of individualism, whereas the We paradigm describes more accurately the value that is at the core of LBI Backstage Pass. In our “Let’s Collab” clubhouse room, we share the stage so that power is distributed by switching off and sharing moderating duties. We negotiate our work together by using the opportunities to hear about fellow ladyboss’ work to impact our own work. For instance, LBI Backstage Pass member Bobbie Vyas and clubhouse club member Charissa Turnbull connected in our “Let’s Collab” room. As a result of a powerful conversation about mindset and manifestation, that happened off the app, they are working together to promote each other’s businesses and mission!
I had a boss once, who said he valued collaboration. We would talk about my ideas and his ideas for a project. When I looked back at the projects that he shared with our senior leaders, I realized that he rarely shared the projects that had more of my imprint on them. The projects that he shared were the ones that we collaborated on the least. In this case, his valuing collaboration was something he did on the side to make himself feel like he was a collaborator.
When was the last time that you sat down with your values and considered different interpretations of those values? Which ones are aligned with the different systems that we live within? We want to hear your thoughts in the comments!