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

computer monitor main image of a person in suit jacket, with a smaller window displaying another person
computer monitor main image of a person in suit jacket, with a smaller window displaying another person
Illustration by Katerina Limpitsouni of unDraw

1. If you must interrupt, start with a compliment

One of the more straightforward ways to take action as an ally is to look out for interruptions in meetings and stop them in their tracks. For example, “Hold on a sec. I’d like to hear Emma finish what she was saying.”

Yet, there may be situations when you need to interrupt someone. Perhaps it’s because you have new data for the project being discussed. Or you might have highly relevant insights about the client you’re pitching to. What’s an ally to do?

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, I read about an inclusive way to interrupt. …


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

Book entitled Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies for Women in the Workplace. By David G Smith and W Brad Johnson
Book entitled Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies for Women in the Workplace. By David G Smith and W Brad Johnson

Because I am on vacation this week, I invited my friends David Smith and Brad Johnson to be guest authors. I’m delighted to share their wisdom with all of you! In this edition, you’ll read about five strategies for showing up as a male ally in everyday interactions with women at work, based on their recent book, . You’ll find that their message is akin to the Better Allies approach, albeit with a laser focus on equality for women.

While they write to encourage more men to be “good guys,” I think their advice works for people of all…


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

3 people, sitting at a conference table, with their laptops, talking to each other
3 people, sitting at a conference table, with their laptops, talking to each other
Photo: Mapbox Uncharted ERG

Because June is Pride Month, a month to celebrate LGBTQ members of our communities, I decided to create a “best of” edition for today’s newsletter. Here are five ways you can take action as an ally for your LGBTQ coworkers, from some of our past newsletters.

1. Say “We don’t do that here” to promote an LGBTQ-friendly culture

A few years back, with the following story:

“The college I attended was small and very LGBT friendly. One day someone came to visit and used the word ‘gay’ as a pejorative, as was common in the early 2000s. A current student looked…


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

Illustration titled Responses to Racist Behavior. There is a spiral notebook page with 4 points. Seek clarity: “Tell me more about __.” Offer an alternative perspective: “Have you ever considered __.” Speak your truth: “I don’t see it the way you do. I see it as __.” Find common ground: “We don’t agree on __ but we can agree on __.” The page has the National Museum of African American History & Culture. In the lower corners are the better allies logo and a red bubble with betterallies.com.
Illustration titled Responses to Racist Behavior. There is a spiral notebook page with 4 points. Seek clarity: “Tell me more about __.” Offer an alternative perspective: “Have you ever considered __.” Speak your truth: “I don’t see it the way you do. I see it as __.” Find common ground: “We don’t agree on __ but we can agree on __.” The page has the National Museum of African American History & Culture. In the lower corners are the better allies logo and a red bubble with betterallies.com.

1. Be an Upstander with these responses

In Better Allies, I described seven different roles that allies can play to support colleagues from underrepresented groups. (If you don’t have my book, you can read about them in this excerpt in The Muse, .)

One of these roles is the Upstander. For example, a white woman who told me she spoke up when asked to name her “spirit animal” as part of a team-building exercise. She wasn’t comfortable taking part in an exercise that appropriated Native American spiritual traditions.

When an ally takes on the role of…


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

Person, standing in front of trees, holding a flashlight, shining on a question mark to convey curiousity
Person, standing in front of trees, holding a flashlight, shining on a question mark to convey curiousity
Illustration by Katerina Limpitsouni of unDraw

1. Be curious, not furious

This week, I had the opportunity to attend the Professional BusinessWomen of California conference and hear Dr. Bernice King, CEO of the King Center, interviewed. One of the topics she addressed was how people can take action to address bias in the workplace. As you might imagine, I was paying close attention.

Dr. King emphasized the importance of getting out of our silos and connecting with coworkers in a real way. She encouraged us to be curious and understand their world. Learn where they are. Give them space and place to have genuine and honest conversations.

As an example, she…


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

Person standing between trees with no leaves, in front of shadows of other poeple
Person standing between trees with no leaves, in front of shadows of other poeple
Illustration by Katerina Limpitsouni of unDraw

1. Listen to voices across an organization

Last week, enterprise software maker , including banning societal and political discussions. As CEO Jason Fried wrote, “These are difficult enough waters to navigate in life, but significantly more so at work. It’s become too much. It’s a major distraction.”

When I first read the announcement, I thought to myself, “What event caused the CEO to take this stand?” I found the answer in . Employees had discussed an internal list of “funny-sounding” customer names, how the list was inappropriate and often racist, and how the company should hold itself accountable.

In other…


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

Dark image of a person with 2 oblong circles of light around their head
Dark image of a person with 2 oblong circles of light around their head
Photo by on

1. Combat the “halo-horns” effect

In , I learned a new term: “halo-horns.”

“The ‘halo-horns’ effect [is] where white men are artificially advantaged … because they get halos (where one strength is generalized into an overall high rating) whereas other groups get horns (where one mistake is generalized into an overall low rating).”

To combat this effect, the study’s authors recommend that performance review forms require at least three pieces of evidence to back ratings. This change, coupled with training on how the bias showed up in previous reviews, made a difference. …


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

Sepia-toned photo of two people standing towards the end of what appears to be a tunnel, with light shining at the end
Sepia-toned photo of two people standing towards the end of what appears to be a tunnel, with light shining at the end
Photo by on

1. See the light, yet share their fear

On Tuesday, a jury found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd. As , the verdict “can be a giant step forward on the march towards justice in America.” While I’m hopeful that there is light ahead of us, we still have much to do. And as a white woman, here’s just one thing I’m focused on: Doing the work to understand the fear faced by Black people and others who are marginalized in America as they navigate their daily lives.

In , Ellen McGirt provided some insight into one of…


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

Being an ally is a journey — circle with hands holding up 5 ideas to start
Being an ally is a journey — circle with hands holding up 5 ideas to start
Illustration by Brittany Alaniz of Digital NEST

1. Understand your privilege

I’ve written about the “p-word” in previous newsletters, and it’s time to do so again because it’s one of the first steps in the ally journey.

At its core, privilege is a set of unearned benefits given to people who fit into a specific social group. Due to our race, class, gender, sexual orientation, language, geographical location, ability, religion, and more, all of us have greater or lesser access to resources and social power.

Here’s the thing: Privilege is often invisible to those who have it. This means that people can get defensive when someone mentions their privilege. Having one’s…


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

Illustration of a person holding a sign reading This racism is real, it impacts employees, and violence against this community is growing. Above them are the words When racism against employees of Asian descent happens… If someone says, “They’ll be fine,” Push back. Ask “Why do you say that?” Along the bottom is text reading @betterallies and betterallies.com, with the Better Allies logo in the middle.
Illustration of a person holding a sign reading This racism is real, it impacts employees, and violence against this community is growing. Above them are the words When racism against employees of Asian descent happens… If someone says, “They’ll be fine,” Push back. Ask “Why do you say that?” Along the bottom is text reading @betterallies and betterallies.com, with the Better Allies logo in the middle.

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. , 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…

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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