Each week, Karen Catlin shares five simple actions to create a more inclusive workplace and be a better ally.

Person holding mug while looking at laptop
Person holding mug while looking at laptop
Photo by Valeriy Khan on Unsplash

1. Don’t dismiss racism against AAPI employees

Last Friday, I attended “Tech for AAPI Rally,” a virtual event to understand violence and racism against tech employees of Asian and Pacific Island descent. During a panel discussion of how allies can lead change, Bloomberg tech journalist Tom Giles shared the following:

“There is a tendency and a temptation to minimize the problems that are faced by the Asian community … that ‘they’re doing fine.’ It gets back to the model minority myth. … When you think about oppressed groups…


Each week, Karen Catlin shares five simple actions to create a more inclusive workplace and be a better ally.

two people sitting on sofa, one with foam finger, one raising arm in fist pump, enjoying snacks and drinks
two people sitting on sofa, one with foam finger, one raising arm in fist pump, enjoying snacks and drinks
Illustration by Katerina Limpitsouni of unDraw

1. Disrupt the schmoozing advantage

In Schmoozing And The Gender Gap, NPR’s Planet Money team reported on recent research from economists Zoe Cullen and Ricardo Perez-Truglia about why men rise in their careers faster than women. By studying a bank where employees rotated among departments, working for different managers, they found a clear advantage for men who worked for male managers. They socialized more and were promoted faster than men assigned to women managers. By contrast, women in the rotational program socialized with their manager at the same rate, regardless of the manager’s gender, and had similar career progression.

Interestingly, after men were promoted, their…


Each week, Karen Catlin shares five simple actions to create a more inclusive workplace and be a better ally.

Person walking on concrete road, towards a shadow, image black and white
Person walking on concrete road, towards a shadow, image black and white
Photo by Reinhart Julian on Unsplash

1. Know when to walk away from cash

On the journey to be better allies, there will be times we need to make hard decisions. After all, change starts with each of us as individuals. So, we should ask ourselves: How do we want to operate? How should we treat people? Would we turn down business or investments because of creepy behavior? Would we dismiss our top sales executive after disciplining him for harassment? What are the deals we won’t do because they conflict with our values? When will we walk away from cash?

Walking away from cash was exactly what Professor Luke Stark did recently when he…


Each week, Karen Catlin shares five simple actions to create a more inclusive workplace and be a better ally.

Flowers being laid at a vigil for Sarah Everard in Sheffield.
Flowers being laid at a vigil for Sarah Everard in Sheffield.
Flowers at Sarah Everard Vigil in Sheffield by Tim Dennell under CC BY 2.0

1. Advocate for women’s physical safety

“The spread of COVID-19 has been followed by two horrible, hateful trends: a shadow pandemic of violence against women and a surge of violence against Asian Americans.”Melinda Gates, March 17, 2021

In early March, Sarah Everard disappeared while walking home in South London. Last week, her body was found. A few days ago in Atlanta, a gunman killed eight people in three spas. Six of the victims were women of Asian descent.

And that’s not all. After multiple rape allegations against members of Parliament, people across Australia are marching for gender equality and justice for victims of sexual…


Each week, Karen Catlin shares five simple actions to create a more inclusive workplace and be a better ally.

Prince Harry and Ms. Markle signing a guestbook
Prince Harry and Ms. Markle signing a guestbook
Prince Harry and Ms. Markle visit Titanic Belfast by Northern Ireland Office, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

1. Guide new employees on how to survive and thrive

On Sunday evening, my Twitter feed filled with reactions to Oprah’s interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. I found much of it heartbreaking and even infuriating. The next day, I was still processing it all when I read my friend Dr. Suzanne Wertheim’s summary, I hear stories like Meghan Markle’s every day in my anti-bias work. The parallels are chilling and important for allies to understand.

Here’s just one.

Duchess problems: Markle asked for training on the technical aspects of and protocols for her new job. “The firm” did not provide that training.

Regular problems: I hear about…


Each week, Karen Catlin shares five simple actions to create a more inclusive workplace and be a better ally.

graphic showing sticky notes with ways to disrupt office housework by betterallies.com
graphic showing sticky notes with ways to disrupt office housework by betterallies.com
Illustration by Brittany Alaniz of Digital NEST

March is Women’s History Month, and I decided it would be fitting to focus this week’s newsletter on what all too often falls on women’s shoulders: Office Housework.

Every workplace has office housework — tasks that need to get done but don’t impact the bottom line. Chances are they don’t lead to career growth; they may even impact it negatively. The most obvious example of office housework is taking the minutes at a meeting if that’s not part of one’s job description. (As a former program manager and epic notetaker, I know the value of good notes. I’m not diminishing…


Each week, Karen Catlin shares five simple actions to create a more inclusive workplace and be a better ally.

Companies: we believe in meritocracy around here; but, image shows pyramid of faces, white males at top, woman and bipoc below
Companies: we believe in meritocracy around here; but, image shows pyramid of faces, white males at top, woman and bipoc below

1. Set up a reverse mentoring relationship

Many leaders genuinely believe they’re creating meritocracies, where women and people from other underrepresented groups can get ahead on their merits. However, when you look at the data, many organizations become “maler” and “paler” the closer you get to the C-Suite.

This image by Braveen Kumar, who works on growth at Shopify, says it all.

Whether your organization looks like Braveen’s image or not, here’s an idea for better allies everywhere. Set up a reverse mentoring relationship with a member…


Each week, Karen Catlin shares five simple actions to create a more inclusive workplace and be a better ally.

Two people in separate screens with arrows pointing to each screen, representing online meetings
Two people in separate screens with arrows pointing to each screen, representing online meetings
Illustration by Katerina Limpitsouni of unDraw

1. Be curious about others’ experiences in the workplace

In a recent article for Harvard Business Review, David Smith PhD and W. Brad Johnson PhD state something that should be obvious but bears repeating: “A humble and curious question goes a long way toward building better empathy and situational awareness.”

Specifically, they want men to acknowledge that there’s a lot they don’t understand and can’t possibly fathom about what women experience daily. They want more men to ask women about their experience in the workplace.

Smith and Johnson provided these helpful ideas to start a conversation:

  • I’m curious about some of the things women in this organization find most…


Each week, Karen Catlin shares five simple actions to create a more inclusive workplace and be a better ally.

Person of color with a beard, holding a smartphone, writing on paper, at a desk
Person of color with a beard, holding a smartphone, writing on paper, at a desk
Photo by MetaLab for the Nappy All Hands Collection

1. Ensure all voices are heard

Last week, the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee president and former Prime Minister of Japan made some controversial comments about women in meetings. As reported by Nikkei Asia, Yoshiro Mori said that board meetings with women “take so much time” and “Women have a strong sense of competition. If one person raises their hand, others probably think, I need to say something too. That’s why everyone speaks.”

Management scholar and author Adam Grant responded on Twitter with a different opinion, informed by research from Cornell University:

Regardless of the reasons — and regardless of the gender identity of the person…


Each week, Karen Catlin shares five simple actions to create a more inclusive workplace and be a better ally.

Illustration titled “Celebrate Black History Month By Taking Action” with the five actions listed in this article on signs
Illustration titled “Celebrate Black History Month By Taking Action” with the five actions listed in this article on signs
Illustration by Brittany Alaniz of DigitalNEST

1. Celebrate Black History Month by taking action

As Nicole Cardoza wrote in the Anti-Racism Daily,

“This is a year for making the history books, not only for re-reading them. Education is essential, but we have to also take targeted actions to change the course of history.”

While changing the course of history may seem like big shoes to fill, let’s remember that change starts with a single act. Here’s just one idea: Mentor a Black person in your organization.

Last June, CNBC reported that six years after releasing their first diversity reports, Alphabet, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter have shown only low single-digit increases in their percentage…

Better Allies®

Everyday actions to create inclusive, engaging workplaces. Together, we can — and will — make a difference with the Better Allies® approach.

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