Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

Our startup totally isn’t a cult

I’m serious. It really isn’t.

Welcome, welcome! Thanks so much for stopping by. I know your writing schedule must be busy. As CEO, I appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight on our culture. Or should I say culture? Just kidding — I probably shouldn’t make that joke yet, given your previous article. Sigh. You journalists… I really wish you asked for a comment before you hit the publish button. That last piece really hurt my feelings.

Anyway, I’ll let bygones be bygones. Let’s take a wander around the building. I’ve got some points to address regarding your article. Before we get started, can I offer you a drink? Coffee? Tea? Kombucha? No? Well… all right then.

As you might recall from the emails, voicemails, WhatsApps, Tweets, Snapchats, Signals, and Instagram DMs we sent you, I (and my lawyers) strongly disagree that our fine company is a cult. Here are some of the company values that perfectly embody our non-cultiness:

1. Providing freedom

Whenever I ask employees if they want to recite the company mantra, I always emphasize that it’s totally optional. Although it secretly sends a thrill down my spine to hear their voices intoning the words in unison like monks in a sacred temple, I know how important it is for them to be completely free. They can do whatever they want! They don’t have to stand up, or put their hands on their hearts, or take off their hats during the recitation. But if they do, well… that’s a choice, too, and I certainly won’t stop them. Isn’t freedom wonderful?

2. Encouraging expression

I’m really into freedom of expression, too — that’s why there’s no dress code. Want to walk around barefoot? Sure, no problem. Want to wear pajamas to work? All right, you do you. Don’t feel like wearing the company t-shirts? Go for it. I mean, yeah, it’s pretty cool if we’re all matching — one of so many gorgeous creatures in a sea of pure, otherworldly white — but it’s fine if we aren’t. It’s TOTALLY FINE.

Walk around barefoot. Fill the office with flower petals. As long as it’s self-expression, I don’t really care.

3. Being different

We’re not like those other hegemonic leviathans who just want you to fall in line. Have you ever been to those companies? Or worse yet, worked for one of them? I mean, ugh. Just thinking about it, I feel ill. I pride our company on independent thinking. We’re different than the rest, and it’s good for our employees to remember that every day.

The first way we accomplish this is by etching, engraving, writing, painting, plastering, and otherwise infusing our core values into everything: they’re on the walls, stairs, floors, ceilings, letterhead, shirts, pens, and post-it notes… to name a few. We live and breathe these values — literally. We pay a guy to softly whisper them into the air ducts.

Also, we came up with fun new names for job titles! That dude isn’t VP of Human Resources: he’s our “Chief Happiness Officer.” And that lady? She’s a “Code Ninja,” and her reports are “Software Samurais.”

All these differences show our new hires how completely unique and non-conformist we are compared to their old, super-boring companies.

Tasteful symbolism from other cultures makes our company special and different.

4. Having fun

Cults don’t have fun, and we have so. much. fun. Just look at this event calendar.

Saint Patrick’s Day. Easter (which will probably be renamed to “the spring fling” now that we actually have an HR — I mean Happiness — department.) The spring hackathon.

The summer party. The summer hackathon. Lacrosse day. Water balloon fight day. Laser tag day. Puzzle day. Escape room day.

Diversity week. The fall hackathon. Oktoberfest. Halloween.

White elephants. The winter hackathon. The winter party that we’re not allowed to call the “Christmas party” anymore.

“Think different” day. “Think like Steve Jobs” day. “Think like The Woz” day. “Think like Tim Cook” day. “Think-about-what-new-events-we-want-to-have” day. And at least five I can’t remember. It’s a wonder anyone gets any work done around here!

Plus, everyone I know says cults are pretty obsessed with reading rules, following rules, and making up new rules. As you can see, we’re not into rules. But we’re super into fun!

Working at our company is like this 24/7

5. Total transparency

I let my employees ask me any question they want. Check out the anonymous comment box we’ve displayed on the giant TV screen in the hallway. Name one cult leader who’d do something like that. See? Exactly.

Also, we’re totally fine with disagreement, as long as you do it respectfully. We’ve had a few disrespectful dissenters recently, though, and that’s just not okay. Maybe they just aren’t cut out to be as different as we are, so… we had to let them go. Or maybe they left on their own. I’m honestly not too sure. But compare that to a cult — I mean, hah, they’d never let you leave!

Anyway, transparency. Just look at all those positive comments on the comment-box, though. Literally everyone is happy here!

6. No Kool-Aid

Let me take you to our kitchen. Check out all these free snacks and drinks. Just give it a moment — take it all in. I know, it’s a lot to process.

But do you see Kool-Aid? Didn’t think so. Cults drink Kool-Aid, and we have exactly zero Kool-Aid on this premises. Capri Sun, yes. Soylent, yes. Kool Aid, no. Never have, never will. Ergo, we aren’t a cult!

On an unrelated note… would you like a coconut water while you’re in here? Maybe two? We all love them. Ah, see! I knew I’d convince you.

Anyway, as you can see from the above six values, we’re totally not a cult. Far from it, we’re creating a revolutionary culture filled with free thought and expression, innovation, fun, and, most importantly, delicious snacks.

Speaking of which… how’s that coconut water tasting? Anything like “article retraction”? If not, I’m happy to get you another one. It can take a little while for the sweaty popcorn taste to really start working its magic.

Kimberly is a writer and photographer. When she isn’t satirizing tech culture, you’ll probably find her traveling or eating.

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We hope you enjoyed this piece of satire! We are excited to have this new form of story on Code Like A Girl.