Staking Out a New, More Inclusive, Normal

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

1. Stake out a new, more inclusive, normal

I love getting email from my newsletter subscribers, and last week I received one that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. Dwayne Pryce wrote:

“With this pandemic, we are collectively working on fabricating a new normal for our society. We can allow this to form organically, but that’s most likely to reinforce our old ways and behaviors that have already proven to work against a diverse and inclusive society.

If instead we approach both this process actively instead of passively, and if we are mindful of all the shortcomings our previous social system had inherently ingrained, we may be able to stake out a new normal that is diverse and inclusive by default. If we’re already doing the work of fabricating new social norms, especially regarding work, it would seem that now is the ideal time to make some progress at building work and personal environments that include, support, and empower people who have historically had to struggle against our legacy social systems.

This opportunity may never come again, so now more than ever we should approach our allyship with a renewed sense of importance and responsibility!”

Allies, how will you stake out a new normal? One that is more inclusive than ever before? I look forward to hearing from you.

2. Say no to all-male (or all-white) panels

This week, Filipino physician Dr. Renzo Guinto tweeted*

“Just declined an invite to speak in a #COVID19 webinar when I learned that there is no single woman in a panel of 8 men (I will be 9th). Even in crisis time, & especially in this time, we must remain consistent with our convictions.”

Saying no to all-male panels (or all-white panels) is just one way to “remain consistent with our convictions.” I, along with tens of thousands of people on Twitter, applaud Dr. Guinto.

*Dr. Guinto protects his tweets. You’ll only be able to view this tweet if you follow each other.

3. Use honorifics … for all genders

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. Use someone’s hard-earned honorifics such as “Dr.” to show your respect and to model respectful behavior for others to see. Please remember that everyone, regardless of gender, deserves to be treated this way.

Wondering why I felt compelled to include this action in my newsletter again? “Dr. Fauci or Deb” was trending on Twitter the other day. Note: They are both medical doctors.

4. Don’t forget to count non-binary people

When I filled out the US Census form for my household, I had one of those “you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me” moments. On the page to select gender, the form gave just two options: Male or Female.

What’s a non-binary person supposed to do?

As tech leader Erica Joy summed up,

“that’s exactly the point. choose one or don’t be counted.”

Allies, let’s be different. Let’s be sure to count all people as we collect information about our customers, patients, or communities.

For more guidance about collecting gender data, check out How to Collect User Data About Gender Identity — and When Not to.

5. Level up your LGBTQ+ ally skills

Last year, I purchased an ad for the “Better Allies” book in my college alumni magazine. After seeing it, one of my former classmates, Jeannie Gainsburg, reached out. She had seen my ad and wanted to let me know she was writing a complimentary book, The Savvy Ally. Jeannie’s focus was on practical ways to be an ally for people in the LGBTQ+ community, based on her experience as an LGBTQ+ educator.

Long story short, “The Savvy Ally” was published earlier this month, and I read it right away. The book is comprehensive and action-oriented, tackling a serious topic with just the right amount of humor. I highly recommend it.

Here’s just one suggestion I picked up from it. When someone comes out to me as LGBTQ+, I’ll thank them and, depending on the person, I might say:

  • “Congratulations. I’m so happy for you.”
  • “I’m here for you.”
  • “This calls for a celebration!”

If you want to level up your LGBTQ+ ally skills, be sure to read “The Savvy Ally.”

I wish you strength and safety as we all move forward,

— Karen Catlin, Founder and Author of Better Allies

Being an ally is a journey. Want to join us?

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✉️ This content originally appeared in our newsletter, 5 Ally Actions; Subscribe to get it delivered to your inbox every Friday

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Together, we can — and will — make a difference with the Better Allies™ approach.

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

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