Saturday, 25 July 2015

Who Should Define Sleezy?

It doesn't take much these days to incur the wrath of doulas who aim to "professionalize".  They are, somewhat understandably, skittish.  I'd imagine that this is born out of having to blaze trails and establish new flows against the current.  The relative "newness" of their pursuits leave them distrustful and quick to shoot anyone that questions their sacred cows. I value innovators and people that speak truth plainly and for this, I give Randi Patterson and her staff mucho kudos.
As a self ascribed "industry watchdog" I'm often skewered in my attempts to bring attention to the uncomfortable.  I'm cool with this.  It means I'm asking important questions.  And to this issue I make the observation that we, as a profession, vocation or calling, need a business code of ethics.

"Business Ethics" can be defined as the critical, structured examination of how people & institutions should behave in the world of commerce. In particular, it involves examining appropriate constraints on the pursuit of self-interest, or (for firms) profits, when the actions of individuals or firms affects others.

I imagine that a think tank/summit would be the most efficacious way to host this important conversation. Leaders in the doula world need to gather around a table and hammer out what this would look like.  Certainly, we don't need to re-invent the wheel.  The Canadian Marketing Association, a think tank of marketing gurus, makes available some compelling marketing guidelines that cleave to foundational ethical principals yet allow for maximum realisation of profit and potential.   Their position on "Warm chatting" or any other type of marketing contact is multi-faceted and contains the following:
I5.1 Marketers should identify themselves and must not engage in marketing communications in the guise of one purpose when the intent is a different purpose.

We need clear ethical guidelines in place to guide us as we move into a new business savvy era.  We mustn't take this lightly.  Our success rests on a mountain of great work done by industry pioneers and we ought not waste it by acting cavalier and not laying the tracks for what is to come.  It is truly beneath us all to be stuck in spitting contests and high-school antics.  Let's all come to higher ground and establish agreed upon industry guidelines.  If anyone can come together and get this done, doulas can.   


  1. Sheri, you know I respect you and admire you. I'm frustrated by this. People were upset because it feels like your post is uninformed when it comes to warm chatting. What you described isn't warm chatting. I would encourage you to listen to the conference call Randy did on warm chatting. You can get it for free by emailing the ProDoula office.

    I'm also frustrated because you have brilliant ideas and I believe every doula needs to hear them, but you're being held back by your organization. I've told you this in private but maybe it needs to be said in public. I learned so much from you and PBC but I wasn't able to take your ideas to the next level until I met Randy and Debbie. You need a powerhouse behind you to bolster you and your ideas up in a way that your org has never done for you. Your ideas need to get out there. I wish you would stop for a moment and talk with Randy to find out what she's really all about.

  2. Thank you for your comment Catie. I appreciate your contribution. I will listen to the conference call you suggest, but I must reveal that that feels like "listen to why we think white lies are alright and not the same as dark lies". Have you checked out some of the press on Mary Kay cosmetics? This makeup empire is now being brought to it's knees for its "warm chatting" training and has lost a great deal of it's market share owing to it's deceptive marketing practice. Sales women were instructed to "befriend" women, gain their trust, offer some friendship and schedule a facial... Women have gone public with their shame around this feeling that they "fell for it". I'm not claiming that all "warm chatting" goes this route, but the possibility is there for anyone not tuned to the nuances and I want some industry leaders to consider a business code of ethics. If the proponents of the marketing practices I mention are confident that they are within ethical guidelines then this will only serve to validate their position. I am not interested in talking about organizations specifically. That is not relevant to this discussion in any way. I stand as an individual with extensive experience training doulas and providing leadership. This is my opinion and I believe I have a right to it.