As a self-proclaimed anti-oppressive copywriter, today’s blog topic is something I feel needs to be talked about more, especially in the online space.
And since February is Black History Month, I felt now was a key time to discuss why anti-oppression is so important to me, how I make it a central part of my business model, and how you can make small changes every day to start being active in the matter of anti-oppression.
The Importance of Anti-Oppression
It’s no secret that we don’t live in a fair world. Throughout history, many groups of people have been marginalized and continuously oppressed. It’s no longer enough to just be against this, we need to be continuously and actively campaigning against oppression.
Now, I know that might sound a bit overwhelming, but I don’t mean we have to line the streets in protest every single day! We just need to be conscious of how we go about our daily lives and how we run our businesses to make sure we aren’t accidentally contributing to that cycle of oppression!
Because what I’ve noticed is that when the Black Lives Matter movement rose up 18 months ago, a lot of people jumped on the bandwagon (which was great) but then not much more has been done since (which is not so great).
Essentially, it’s important to remember that anti-oppression isn’t a trend or a marketing tactic, but instead, something that we should all be incorporating into our lives and business in little (but significant ways) every day.
Because nothing changes if nothing changes.
Anti-oppressive ways I run my business
I am someone who is very conscious of running a business in a way that is accessible for all and that actively fights against oppressing marginalized groups. Over the years, I’ve made mistakes and have learned and implemented a few things that I do regularly to continue to show up in this way.
So I thought I would share what this looks like for my own business.
Note: just because I am doing something in my business doesn’t mean you need to feel as if you have to do the same thing. I am sharing what I do as a way to jumpstart your brainstorming for you to think about what anti-oppression work might look like in your business. This post isn’t meant to be a how-to or a shame-on-you. It’s meant to inspire and to keep the conversation at the front of our minds.
Understanding versus fixing
I’m a fixer by nature. When someone comes to me with a problem, I want to solve it, AND this is something that I work on changing every day.
That’s not to say I don’t want to help people!
But instead of jumping in with a potential fix, I want to understand the other person before I make assumptions on what would help based on my own life experiences. And as a white heterosexual woman, my life experiences are likely to be very different to people who have non-dominant identities (e.g they’re of a different race, sexuality, religion) who have been systemically oppressed.
So I’m focusing on creating space to understand others. In doing so, I am actively trying to fight against any further oppression of any non-dominant identity.
As a general rule, I assume everyone has some sort of trauma they have experienced in their background, regardless of what they look like when they are sitting in front of me (mental health is still often deeply hidden and not talked about in our society). Instead, I base everything from that values-based approach of being compassionate and trying to understand versus fix.
Not increasing payment plan prices
When I first started my business, I used to charge higher percentages on my payment plans. Nothing unusual there, a lot of people do this to offset things like administrative costs!
However, I've realized that this can act as a barrier to certain people in my community. It also doesn’t seem fair for me to charge some people more for the same knowledge simply because they aren’t in the financial position where they can pay upfront.
And in doing this, I could also be further penalizing people who can’t afford to pay thousands of dollars upfront because of the years of systemic oppression they’ve faced.
I realized this didn’t align with my values so I decided to change it!
Sidenote: If you do increase the cost of your payment plans, then that is absolutely fine and there is no shame in doing so. Ultimately, you need to do what's best for your business! I just wanted to share my realization and updated practices around this as it was something I hadn't considered before.
Not using false scarcity tactics
False scarcity (and scarcity tactics in general) are something I try to avoid because you never know if this could be a trigger to other people.
The problem with scarcity tactics is that they are usually accompanied by money shaming. But by saying ‘if you don’t act now and secure one of the 2 places left, your business won't progress/make any money’ you could be triggering someone who’s experienced real and extreme poverty and scarcity around resources.
This causes them to purchase from a place of fear. So we need to be very careful about when we use these types of tactics.
I’m not saying to never use them, but make sure there is a legit reason! For example, if the next cohort of your course starts in a few days, it’s okay to advertise the time limit as it’s real! But if you’re using scarcity tactics on an evergreen service, maybe ask yourself why and if it aligns with your values.
Little things you can start incorporating into your business
Here are some other things I try to implement that are easy to start doing straight away! So I thought I’d share in case they’re of any help.
Be mindful of who you learn from
When you’re hiring a coach or looking to invest in yourself to aid the growth of your business, be mindful of who you are learning from and what their principles are!
For example, many of the coaches out there use the Jeff Walker Launch Formula which at its very core, purposely uses social triggers (which can be linked to trauma) to persuade people to buy.
Now, I’m not saying this doesn’t work or even that it’s a bad model, however, if it doesn’t align with your values, make sure you aren’t being trained by someone who uses that method.
Instead, research into people who have learned (and subsequently teach) principles and formulas that do! There are a lot of people out there with other backgrounds, values and lineage* who might be better able to help - you might just need to do a bit more research!
As business owners, it’s natural to take any opportunity to increase your visibility (for example, being invited to speak on a podcast!).
However, it’s time we start looking deeper into the values of the person who’s hosting. Look at where they stand and make sure that you’re only aligning yourself with people who are invested in the same values you have.
This can look like saying no to speaking in a summit if there are only 1 or 2 speakers of colour and instead, using your voice to call for more diversity within the community.
Be aware of your team
Being aware of your team (if you have one) seems like an obvious thing to say!
But there are a few things you can do to make sure that your team feels seen and to ensure you’re being inclusive. Such as hiring a diverse range of people, avoiding tokenism or recognizing non-christian holidays and giving the whole team the day off!
I promise your whole business won’t fall apart because your team is given an extra day or two off each year- plus it’s a great way to educate your team and respect the different cultures within it too!
The power of doing little things, every day
Remember that not everything you do has to be at a movement level.
The most important thing is to make small shifts in what you're doing daily to be actively learning more.
Even little things like:
- Using inclusive stock images
- Speaking out on injustices consistently (not just when it’s trending)
- Be mindful of your network and who you frequently interact with.
- Keep an eye on the language you use to make sure it isn't triggering or offensive.
- If you learn that something is offensive, oppressive or triggering, don’t make the same mistake again!
You don't have to be in full-on activist mode all the time. But the work should be ongoing. It’s not a one-and-done sort of thing!
Also, give yourself grace, we’re human and we all make errors but don’t get upset if someone points something out. Thank them and make the change.
What do you do in your business to be more anti-oppressive? I’d love to know!
|*A note on my lineage in relation to this post: I have a Masters in Critical Sociology with a focus on social justice. Since entering the online space I have continued to explore and learn from some amazing women: Kelly Diels and Rachel Rodgers are among those who I continue to learn from and their content has influenced my personal business practices that I share with you in this blog.|