You Were Right – We Were Wrong
So here’s the deal, rooted in honesty and transparency: Over the weekend, we published a piece on food insecurity and hunger that was aimed at how employers could better support their food insecure employees. We got called out, and rightfully so, for failing to address the root of these problems: a lack of livable wages.
Upon receiving that feedback (a summary of the critique can be found here, in a piece written by Hanna Brooks Olsen), we engaged as an editorial staff and unanimously agreed with it. We knew it wasn’t okay that it took being called out for us to realize that these critical points should’ve been not only included, but the entire foundation upon which the article was written.
As we reflected on all of this insightful feedback, we reached the conclusion that we could update the piece to address the problem. Earlier today, we republished an updated piece along with an apology for having missed the mark.
And we got it wrong again.
After posting the new piece on Facebook, we received a comment from a reader that finally made it click for us, giving us the “ah-ha” moment that we needed to more fully understand the scope of our mistake: The issue wasn’t simply about the framing of the article; it was who we addressed it to and why – and how that contributed to the very oppression that we’re working to dismantle. At that point, we understood then that our “solution,” therefore, still didn’t address the issue in a responsible way.
We made some serious missteps in this process, and it took a long time for us to understand what we did wrong. All that’s left now is to be transparent about those missteps, to un-publish the article, and to move back and take more time to reevaluate how to have this conversation in a way that’s more justice-oriented.
But none of this – our learning, our commitment to do better – could have happened without your feedback, which has helped us recognize the necessary nuance and depth that we were missing on issues related to food insecurity.
Let’s be real: Learning from our mistakes is an essential part of our work. So we can’t say enough how much we appreciate your supporting us in doing that by holding us accountable. We’re growing, and we couldn’t do that without you!
We know that this work includes making mistakes. But we also know that we need to own up to those mistakes when they happen – and to work tirelessly at not making them in the future. The best we can hope for is to have opportunities to keep getting better. Thanks for pushing us to do just that.
Given all of the feedback that we’ve gotten about this article and the implications that it might have about the financial structure of Everyday Feminism, we wanted to make sure that some of the organizational information that we’ve sent out to inquiring folks would also be available to the public.
We want to acknowledge, first and foremost, that your concerns with the online publication industry are totally on-point, and we agree with you all whole-heartedly. As many of you are aware, the current state of the industry – including in various so-called feminist spaces – is often exploitative and oppressive. Many other popular online publishing websites, including a few feminist ones, were founded and/or backed by millions of dollars of investments and yet still pay little or nothing to their contributors.
So we really appreciate your calling on us for public accountability on this issue.
Everyday Feminism is run by a full-time core staff of six people of various intersecting marginalized identities – and we are an affirmative action employer. We believe, first and foremost, that it’s necessary for organizational leadership to be diverse and for our staff to have lived the experiences that we write about in our magazine. Currently, we are two-thirds people of color, two-thirds trans or gender non-conforming, two-thirds disabled or neuroatypical, and 100% queer. There are gaps in identities on our staff for sure, and when we hire new staff in the future, we intend to address those gaps. Justice, in its monetary form, we think, partly comes from prioritizing marginalized people in leadership positions.
Everyday Feminism is a bootstrapped site, which means that we operate solely on the revenue that we earn from our website traffic and online courses (which all offer scholarships to make them financially accessible). Eighty percent of that revenue goes into paying staff and contributors, including the benefits packages for staff. Our second-largest expense is web-related costs, which uses 7% of our revenue.
The salary range at Everyday Feminism is $40-80K from junior staff through executive staff. Our benefits packages include amazing healthcare, short-term and long-term disability insurance, four weeks of paid vacation, and flexible paid sick days.
Our pay for contributions to the magazine differs, depending on where the contribution is coming from. We pay our regular contributors $100-150 per original post and guest contributors are paid $75 per post. While most publishing websites don’t pay for cross-posts, we pay $25 per cross-posted article.
In addition to the regular post payment, regular contributors get a bonus for high traffic posts. We instituted this bonus because we think it’s important that those who create viral content should also receive a share of that higher revenue. Contributing writers are also offered the opportunity to join our speakers bureau, where they receive 80% of the honorarium, and we keep 20% to compensate for managing the marketing and administrative aspects. Also, we allow free lifetime access to the personal and professional development courses that we offer.
If and when we experience a cash flow issue, wherein our input doesn’t match the needs of our output, our founder, Sandra Kim, takes the hit from her own salary first. That means that everyone, including staff and contributors, are always paid on time and in full, no matter what.
Currently we pay on the good-to-average side of the online publishing industry for a site of our size – and we don’t think that’s enough, because the market undervalues this important work. That’s why, as our revenue has grown since our founding four years ago, we’ve increased the pay scale multiple times for the staff and contributors. We’ll continue to do this whenever possible. Also, in order to further align our operations with our values, we intend to transition to a worker owned cooperative in 2017.
Of course, this is all still imperfect. We believe in a world where people and their work are more fairly compensated for the ways in which they contribute to society. So we appreciate your diligence in checking to make sure that our financial compensation structure reflects our values
The Editors at Everyday Feminism