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Why I Said No to Being Called CEO


An organization president rejects the troublesome title of “chief”.


four min learn

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their very own.


When I began Seam Social Labs in 2018, my purpose was to attempt to discover a means to construct a enterprise as impactful to our as , however solely targeted on neighborhood empowerment. It took me eighteen months of buyer discovery to understand the answer would begin as co:census, (i.e., our first portfolio product devoted to ensuring voices are heard by way of the lens of qualitative information). 

Now that that enterprise is up and working, one query that I’ve gotten is about my title as firm chief.

I am not the , or “CEO”, of Seam Social Labs. I am the Head of Strategy. In reality, our firm doesn’t have a CEO. I am each job description associated to a Chief Executive Officer, however I particularly selected a unique time period as a result of I needed to take into consideration the influence of titles in company buildings. 

I self-identify as an Afro-Latina lady. This identification isn’t based mostly on the indigenous heritage of , however I perceive the way it feels to be oppressed and silenced.

Related: Entrepreneur Masters: How to break the paradigms of an business?

History of the phrase “chief”

Over the previous few years, I researched conflicting opinions on this time period. From a metropolis dropping “chief” from it’s job titles, to protests in opposition to the title of the Superbowl runner-up Kansas City Chiefs. Recently, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson mentioned, “the city will vote next week to remove the word ‘chief’ from city job titles so that we have more inclusive leadership and less language that is rooted in hurt and offensive, intentional marginalization.” 

When I selected the title of Head of Strategy, my stance was based mostly on the phrase “chief” and the restricted illustration of indigenous communities, total. 

From the web site Native Circle: “[Chief] is a word that is commonly given as a nickname which incorrectly labels Native American men. The term ‘chief’ itself is incorrect. American Indian leaders were never ‘chiefs’, but headmen, or clan mothers, and so on. Not ‘chiefs’… Being called ‘chief’ carries with it the same insulting, belittling sting for a Native man as being called ‘boy’ does for African American men.”

Related: Taco Bell CEO Mark King on Tapping Into the Human Element of Operations

In a “Washington Post” opinion piece responding to the Mayor a reader wrote: “There is no reason to believe that this word was ever intended to mean anything other than its definition: ‘a leader or ruler of a people or clan.’  There is simply nothing offensive or marginalizing about the word. Its use goes back as far as around 1300, when in Old French, it meant pretty much the same thing as it does now.”

Historically this phrase has been used as one to outline management, but it surely’s additionally been used as a slur in opposition to native leaders. As a enterprise founder targeted on neighborhood empowerment, something that’s nonetheless being determined upon by a complete neighborhood, is price cautious consideration. No title, model title or image is well worth the hurt of negatively impacting a tradition.  If 2020 has taught anybody something, particularly for many who didn’t work within the inclusion area, it’s that you’ve got to take a look at every thing with new eyes. 

A title that displays my territory

One of my greatest objectives in creating this firm is to present that we are able to decolonize the programs we’ve created. This requires dialog and difficult the assumptions that we’ve got traditionally had. If you are on the lookout for the chance to work at an organization that challenges these assumptions? Hey, we’ll be hiring within the subsequent few months. 

As a sociologist, I am aware of how a lot tradition shifts, language modifications and habits remodel over time. My hope is that Seam Social Labs hires individuals who know they’ll carry their full tradition and selves as added worth to our enterprise. 

Related: Sometimes, What Can’t Go Wrong Will Go Wrong



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