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

Person standing in a forest, touching a big red X, representing making a mistake
Illustration by Katerina Limpitsouni of unDraw

1. Let yourself be a beginner

In The Path to Allyship, Denise Hamilton, an inclusion strategist and CEO of WatchHerWork, wrote about adopting a beginner mindset:

“If you are doing anything worthwhile, you will make mistakes. It is not a possibility, but guaranteed. As adults, most of us have identified our areas of giftedness and focus our time and energy in those spaces. We really like to be an expert, proficient in the things we do. We very rarely do things we don’t think we will be good at, especially when those things are high stakes. …


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

Person in red top and jeans, looking into a mirror and seeing themselves in a business suit
Illustration by Katerina Limpitsouni of unDraw

1. Avoid the mirror-tocracy

In What do we mean when we talk about workplace culture?, author and cultural trends expert Annie Auerbach wrote:

“In the workplace we often hear the words ‘cultural fit’. People are hired because of this. It means they get the same jokes and share the same cultural references as the leaders. The assumption is if everyone is ‘on the same page’ then businesses can make decisions quickly. This is a ‘mirror-tocracy’.

A mirror-tocracy means companies create an echo chamber, where there is a lack of diverse voices and experiences. …


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

Two people, sitting at a work station, going over a document
Illustration by Katerina Limpitsouni of unDraw

1. Avoid on-site favoritism

During my keynotes and fireside chats on Better Allies, I’m starting to get questions about fostering inclusion in a hybrid workplace, where some people work in person and others are remote. I appreciate that people want to know how to make a difference, whether they’re already in a hybrid setting or know they’ll be moving to one soon. Here’s why.

In Don’t Lose the Democratizing Effect of Remote Work, researchers Joan C. Williams, Rachel M. Korn, and Mikayla Boginsky point out how mishandling the transition to hybrid work threatens to reinforce social inequalities and jeopardize companies’ DEI efforts. …


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

A large dark green quotation mark on a light green background with text “Amplify the voices of those without a microphone. If you have the power of a voice that can be heard, use that voice to name-drop underestimated people whom you admire.” ⁦from “It’s About Damn Time: How to Turn Being Underestimated into Your Greatest Advantage” by Arlan Hamilton and Rachel L. Nelson
Quote from “It’s About Damn Time” by Arlan Hamilton

1. Name-drop underestimated people you admire

Over the weekend, I spent some time avoiding the heat and smokey air in the Bay Area by staying indoors and reading It’s About Damn Time: How to Turn Being Underestimated into Your Greatest Advantage by Arlan Hamilton. While her stories are aimed at inspiring people who are underrepresented and underestimated, she drops some advice for allies as well. Here’s just one:

“Amplify the voices of those without a microphone. If you have the power of a voice that can be heard, use that voice to name-drop underestimated people whom you admire.”

Allies, let’s all identify at least one person…


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

Person sitting on sofa, talking on phone
Illustration by Katerina Limpitsouni of unDraw

1. Push back on “token hire” comments

Last week, one of my coaching clients, a Black woman, heard that an executive at her company had disparagingly called her “a token.” For context, she is a talented leader with decades of industry experience. I fumed when she told me.

If you’re not familiar with tokenism, it’s about making only symbolic efforts to be inclusive, such as hiring people from underrepresented groups to give the appearance of racial or gender equality.

By calling someone a “token” or a “diversity hire,” we undermine them. …


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

Book cover for The Savvy Ally by Jeannie Gainsburg; a guide for becoming a skilled LGBTQ+ Advocate

Because I’m on vacation this week, I invited my friend Jeannie Gainsburg to write today’s article. Below, you’ll read about five strategies for showing up as an ally for LGBTQ+ coworkers and clients, based on her book, The Savvy Ally: A Guide for Becoming a Skilled LGBTQ+ Advocate. I’m a big fan of Jeannie’s approach and her book. I’ve learned so much from her, and I’m excited to share her wisdom with you. –Karen

1. Know how to mess up properly

With LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, plus so much more!) terms, identities, and cultural norms constantly changing, it’s difficult for allies to keep up. We…


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

Person holding a red quote box, standing next to a gray quote box.
Illustration by Katerina Limpitsouni of unDraw

1. Give feedback on things that matter to the business

A former colleague emailed me recently:

“I wanted to get your thoughts on this tweet I saw from this article about a PGM in Apple who was placed on leave after complaining about sexism in the office.

When I read the tweet, it felt like the comment cited was a legitimate piece of feedback and not particularly sexist.

But I’m a guy. Perhaps I’m missing some nuance, and I’d appreciate your perspective in case”

What was the feedback given to Ashley Gjøvik, a senior engineering program manager at Apple with decades of professional experience?


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

Drawing of person sitting at desk using laptop while talking on a phone. Coffee cup is on their left, a plant is on their right, while shadow images of more people are displayed in the background
Illustration by Katerina Limpitsouni of unDraw

1. Look out for your remote coworkers

Research done by Future Forum found that remote work can significantly improve job satisfaction for Black knowledge workers as compared to their white colleagues, doubling the sense of belonging at work, a 64% boost in managing stress, and a 25% improvement in work-life balance.

They also found that only 3% of Black knowledge workers surveyed in the U.S. want to return to full-time co-located work versus 21% of white knowledge workers.


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

Person standing in front of a large binder, with a photo and lines for text on the left side; paper with a tree in a red teardrop on the right side; representing resumes
Illustration by Katerina Limpitsouni of unDraw

1. Review resumes in the morning

Using data from a large recruitment platform, researchers at ETH Zurich analyzed how recruiters selected candidates. They found that unconscious racial bias was more pronounced by the end of the workday when recruiters were tired or wanted to leave work.

Wow.

So, in addition to other approaches you may already be taking to combat bias during the recruitment process, consider reviewing resumes in the morning when you and your recruiting team are fresh.

Looking for more ideas to be more inclusive during the hiring process? …


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

Person standing in front of an life size calendar, checking out events coming up, represented by circles in the calendar squares
Illustration by Katerina Limpitsouni of unDraw

1. Avoid last-minute schedule changes

July is Disability Pride Month, and I’m starting today’s newsletter with a suggestion that I recently learned: Avoid making last-minute changes to schedules. As Laurie Henneborn wrote in the Harvard Business Review, “advance planning is often key to an employee with a disability’s successful navigation of daily life and work.” Too many last-minute schedule changes can cause harm to a disabled person (as well as to single parents and many others).

India’s Lemon Tree Hotels recommends exactly this in training on how to work with colleagues with disabilities. Employees must also take an introductory sign language course so they can…

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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