Thriving in the Modern Workplace: How to Build a More Inclusive Culture with Karen Catlin (Ep. #74)

Published on
April 11, 2023
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Building Better Managers Podcast Episode #74: Thriving in the Modern Workplace: How to Build a More Inclusive Culture with Karen Catlin

Being an ally and creating a more inclusive workplace culture is a responsibility for everyone, not just those who work in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion roles. For organizations to get diversity and inclusion right, you need to build a culture that truly embraces difference, where everyone feels valued and heard. Only then can you truly begin to thrive.

On our latest podcast, we are joined by Karen Caitlin, acclaimed author of Better Allies and a recognized expert on DEI and workplace equality. With 25 years of experience as a tech executive, Karen witnessed firsthand the decline in women working in tech. Frustrated, but galvanized, she’s dedicated herself toward becoming an advocate for more inclusive workplaces.

In this episode:

Meet Karen Catlin

  • Having amassed over 25 years of experience in the software industry, Karen Catlin recognized a disconcerting trend of diminishing female representation in the tech field. This realization served as a catalyst for her to redirect her efforts towards advocating for increased diversity and inclusivity in workplaces.
  • Karen is now a respected author and speaker, known for her contributions to the field of workplace inclusivity. She has authored several acclaimed books, including Better Allies: Everyday Actions to Create Inclusive, Engaging Workplaces.

Building Strong Allies for Women in the Workplace

  • Allies acknowledge that they may have certain advantages in their personal and professional lives due to their race, gender, sexual orientation, or other aspects of their identity. They take responsibility to address systemic inequalities by actively challenging biases and promoting inclusivity, both in their individual actions and within the larger structures of their workplace or community.
  • Effective allyship also involves using one's privilege to amplify the voices and experiences of marginalized groups, advocating for change that addresses the root causes of inequality. This may include speaking up against discrimination or exclusion, supporting policies or initiatives that promote diversity and equity, or leveraging one's own resources and networks to create opportunities for underrepresented individuals or communities.

Becoming a Better Manager and Inclusive Leader

  • Inclusive leaders prioritize the needs of all employees by considering diverse perspectives and opinions. They encourage an open and respectful dialogue among the team, ensuring everyone has a chance to voice their ideas and feedback.
  • Inclusive leaders remain adaptable and open to change. They recognize that team dynamics and circumstances may change, and are willing to modify their plans to better serve their team and achieve their shared goals.

The Power of Being an Ally

  • Allies can use their privilege to amplify the voices of those who are not heard in the workplace, such as women, people of color, or LGBTQ+ individuals, by actively listening to their concerns and advocating for their needs.
  • Allies can also provide resources, support and mentorship to underrepresented groups, and use their power and influence to push for policies and initiatives that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.

Essential Takeaways

  • A diverse and inclusive workplace can lead to higher revenue growth, greater innovation, and a wider pool of talent to recruit from.
  • Inclusion in the workplace is crucial for employee retention, with organizations that value their employees and treat them fairly being more likely to retain their talent.
  • Trust and fairness in the workplace, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or age, can lead to increased job satisfaction, pride in work, and a desire to stay with the company long-term.
  • An inclusive workplace culture not only helps attract diverse talent but also retains that talent, leading to a stronger and more successful organization.

Downloads & Resources

Follow Karen on LinkedIn, Twitter, and at BetterAllies.com.

Subscribe to our podcast on your favorite podcast platform!

Check out our blog articles on Leadership here.

Karen Catlin

Having amassed over 25 years of experience in the software industry, Karen Catlin recognized a disconcerting trend of diminishing female representation in the tech field. This realization served as a catalyst for her to redirect her efforts towards advocating for increased diversity and inclusivity in workplaces.

Karen is now a respected author and speaker, known for her contributions to the field of workplace inclusivity. She has authored several acclaimed books, including Better Allies: Everyday Actions to Create Inclusive, Engaging Workplaces, Belonging in Healthcare: The Better Allies Approach to Hiring, and Present! A Techie's Guide to Public Speaking.Through her speaking engagements and written works, Karen shares practical insights and actionable strategies to help organizations foster a more equitable and welcoming environment for all employees.

View the episode transcript

Wendy Hanson  0:23  

Welcome, everybody. I'm so happy to have you here today. You know, we all work, I hope we all work towards wanting to create more inclusive workspaces. We need to learn how to be allies, and how to be aware of the subtle actions which may seem small to us, but send very big messages. Our guest today, Aaron has made it one of her missions to educate and create actions which people can do to be sensitive and inclusive to all groups of people. Let me tell you a little bit more about Karen and why we are so lucky to have her on with us today. After spending 25 years building software products and serving as the vice president of engineering at Macromedia and Adobe, Karen witnessed a sharp decline in the number of people working in tech. And I'm sure a lot of you can relate to this. Frustrated, but galvanized, she knew it was time to switch gears. Today, Karen is a highly acclaimed author and speaker on inclusive workplaces. She is the author of four books, better allies, everyday actions to create inclusive, engaging workplaces, belonging to health care, the better allies approach to hiring, and present a techies guide to public speaking. So we're so fortunate to have her. Thank you, Karen, for joining us today.

Karen Catlin  1:54  

Wendy, it is my pleasure, thank you so much for having me on your show.

Wendy Hanson  1:58  

This is such a important topic for people. And what I love about the work that you do is it's very pragmatic. And that's what we look for here that people are going to be able to take things away. And I know in in reading your book, I took a lot of things away things that I was not aware of at all. So I know you're going to bring a lot to our attention that we can discuss. So tell me a little bit more of the backstory for Bill, why you became such an advocate for inclusive workplaces, and came to write your books on how people can be better allies?

Karen Catlin  2:33  

Oh, sure. Yeah, as you mentioned, in that very kind introduction, I spent about 25 years working in tech in the software industry. And as an executive, I did look around and realize, not that it was a surprise. But notice, like, Okay, this is a male dominated field, the whole industry is male dominated. And there used to be more women working side by side with me earlier in my career, and it did become more and more male dominated over time. So I when I was still working in tech, I was a most recently a vice president of engineering at Adobe, I felt a responsibility, a responsibility to help women at my company stay there and grow their careers, if that's where they wanted to be. And I started our employee resource group for women. I was the executive sponsor for a book club for women, I started mentoring a lot of women doing that kind of advocacy work. And I will tell you, Wendy, I loved doing that work. And over time, I loved it a lot more than being a VP of engineering. And that's when I was like, you know, I really want to be working with women, helping them grow leadership skills, full time, and not just at my company. So this goes back about 10 years, I started a leadership coaching practice, which I still have today. I love leadership coaching. But here's the thing. Early on, in my leadership coaching practice, I realized, oh my gosh, these women I get to coach are amazing. But they, they can learn leadership skills, but eventually they're going to hit that call it the glass ceiling, if you want to call it that they're going to hit something. And the something is was so apparent because they were all working at companies where the closer you got to that C suite, you know, the higher up you went, the mailer and paler it got, and with all due respect to anyone who's male listening, I'm definitely pale myself. It's just that's what demographics reveal about so many of our organizations around the country in the United States around the world, frankly. And that's when I was like, okay, to really help my coaching clients, I need to make their companies more inclusive. In fact, I want to make companies everywhere more inclusive. Now. Look at me little one person over here, who was either think I could make a difference. straight, but I so that naivete was there. And maybe that's what made it all possible. I was like, you know, I am going to change the world. And the first thing anyone did, and this goes back to 2014. So a while ago, but the first thing anyone did then was, if you want to change the world, you had to start a Twitter handle. So I went over to Twitter and started the Twitter handle at better allies. And my goal was to share and it's just what you queued up in the introduction, these pragmatic things people could do simple, everyday actions people could take to be more inclusive. Anyway, fast forwarding a little bit, I was tweeting, I started getting speaking requests to come to conferences or companies to speak about this whole better allies approach. And every time I gave a talk, someone would say, or ask a question along these lines. Hey, Karen, this was good. But we want more. Do you have a book? It kept happening? Wendy talk after talk people like where's the book? Where's the book? And I was like, I don't have a book. I don't have a book No book, no book yet. Finally, I did. I did write my book. The first one better allies. And I since I've published a few more in the series to collecting and curating these everyday actions people can take to make their workplaces more inclusive. And not just for women, but for people of any underrepresented demographic, whether that's based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, identity, their age, their abilities, and so forth. I tried to cover all aspects of under-representation.

Wendy Hanson  6:38  

Yeah, and you covered so well in the book, because I think there's so many things that we're just naive is not the right word, but we just, it just goes over people's head, they just don't get it. And I remember working with a very senior engineering leader, and a pretty big company, who was finding that women that were put what, like one at a time on engineering groups never survived, because they didn't have like a peer group to talk to. And she had some interesting philosophies about this, that if we pull out those women, and have them working together, so they have a better voice with each other, and then could work with the team. So I know, there are many ways that people have looked at how do we help this demographic of women? And how do we build their allies? Because if they're all by themselves, they may not have any allies? Yeah. So you know, you tell us some stories. Now, you know, you have examples that will help people, I think, to understand, you know, what, what, what are the times that you acted as somebody's ally? And what was the impact that that had?

Karen Catlin  7:45  

Yeah, well, Wendy elf, so many stories. But I'll also I want to preface all of this with, as I the stories I'm about to tell, it's not like when I was doing these things, I was thinking, Oh, I am such a great ally. I wasn't. And it's important to mention that because we shouldn't be doing these things, because we want the cookie like so to speak. We want the kudos for being a good ally. But we still need to take action. So we do it on behalf of other people. Yeah, let me let me share a couple stories. One, I remember it so well, I remember exactly the office I was sitting in and so forth. But a man who reported to me recently had gotten a new headcount for his team. And I was talking to him about what he was going to do with the headcount, the responsibilities, the job description. And as he was describing it, I was thinking, Oh, my gosh, this sounds perfect for we'll call her Annie, Annie, his star employee, and he was ready for more responsibility, and this would be a step up. So I asked him, Hey, are you going to offer this to Annie, she's, you know, your best employee. We just did our rankings. You know, it seems like she'd be good at this. What do you think? And he said, Oh, no, she would not be interested. She has two young children at home. It's just too much travel for a new mom, a young mom. And you're shaking your head? I can see it. Yeah, no, we don't do that. We do not as managers as leaders make decisions like that on someone's behalf. And I pointed it out to him. And I said, you know, I think that's her decision to make. Why don't you talk to her and see if she is going to have any trouble with that travel, or not let her make that decision? Well, he listened to me Fortunately, he went and talked to her. And sure enough, she wanted the position. She was fine with the travel and she wanted to do an amazing job. So that's an example of how and by the way let's actually let's back up. What he was doing I've since learned is called benevolent sexism. benevolent sexism is I'm going to do good for this person, but it actually is a sexist act where we're going to make decisions on them, which because we think we know what's best for her. We don't do that folks. Instead, make let people make decisions about their career and so forth. That and not not cut things off for them anyway, I'll, I'll leave that. Should I tell another one? What? Yeah,

Wendy Hanson  10:19  

and that, but I think what you're saying is so commonplace, where people say, Oh, no, they're not going to want to have this, you know, and I just think that's a great example. Because just ask, what's the harm in asking? They can say no, so yeah, please.

Karen Catlin  10:35  

All right. Another story. Again, remembering exactly the meeting room least these environments just get seared in my brain, I think when these events happen, but I was in a leadership meeting, and we were talking about an internal technical conference that we were going to hold for the entire company's engineering staff and IT staff. And there were two people, two men who were the organizers of all the content, and they were talking about just like you would if you're organizing a professional conference, they had different tracks for different themes. And they said, and remember, they were giving an updated review. And they said, and we're so proud of the diversity of our track chairs, we have someone from every single geographic region that we have employees based in, and they showed this picture. And every single photo was of a man, and I think it was 99%, white men. And I immediately spoke up and I simply said, you know, I am so glad you are focused on diversity. But where are the women? And they were, they truly were embarrassed and apologized. And they basically said, Can you help us care, and we're not sure who the technical women are at our company, like, okay, and I did, I reached out to people, I knew who would be fabulous, and connected them to this opportunity to be a part of this group defining the conference. So again, look out for all male, anything, all mail, chat, track chairs, all male panelists, if you're organizing a panel, all male awards, if you are giving out awards to customers, or clients or employees, look out for that and question it. And the same goes for all white anything to in a white dominated society.

Wendy Hanson  12:26  

Yeah, it was amazing that they thought just geography being located in different places was diverse, you know, and then we have to go on from women to people of color, and everything else, so that you really are working on diversity. One of the things that you talked about in the book that really intrigued me was, and you kind of alluded to this a little before the difference between knights versus allies, you don't do it for your own, you know, I'm going to be a hero here to tell us a little bit about that.

Karen Catlin  12:55  

Yeah, don't be the hero you this is not what it's all about. You are You shouldn't have this mindset of I am the knight in shining armor, or riding in on my horse to save that damsel in distress, or that person of color in distress or that disabled person in distress or anything? No, no. I have an entire chapter called knights vs allies where I explore this. And the big takeaway here is as we think about what we are doing as allies as better allies, we, we should be taking action in the moment. And that may mean, you know, calling out an all male something or pointing out when someone's being a benevolent, sexist, we should take action in the moment. But at the same time, let's look to a not look not try to get in credit for ourselves, we do it from behind the scenes. And be let's try to look for systemic change, systemic change. So it's not just that one person that gets helped, but all people. Now what's an example of systemic change? Let's say and I think this examples in my book, that you as a manager, have the ability to do a pay equity review for your employees, you have your spreadsheet, everyone's salaries, you have the ranges, you can do some number crunching and figure out if you have underpaid people just in your department, your group, right, you can do that. And probably make some updates. However, you know, whatever kind of things you can change and adjust whatever your budget might be. Better would be to propose that for the entire company that you work for, if not the entire division, depending on how large replaces like be an advocate for pay equity across the board, not just making the the adjustments for the one or two people that might be on your staff who are under underpaid or inequitably. Paid.

Wendy Hanson  14:55  

Yeah, yeah. And it's a great thing when you see something like this stand back back and look at that bigger picture. It's a concept, we call it BetterManager. It's like get on the balcony and get off the dance floor, you know, look down and see all the action going on and go look at from a strategic level, how am I going to really help this challenge within my company?

Karen Catlin  15:16  

I love that metaphor. Yes. Yes.

Wendy Hanson  15:19  

It's so useful all the time. I have to say, yeah. And speaking about hiring, you know, you have a whole chapter on being more inclusive during the hiring process, and an entire book on the process, because it's a really big deal. How do we get people in? So what are some takeaways there regarding hiring that you could share with us?

Karen Catlin  15:38  

Yeah, you know, one of my favorite, and this is going to be another story. Okay, a long, long time ago, I remember working on a team, and I was not the manager, the team, but I was part of the leadership of the group. And the manager had a very precise hiring philosophy, we hire 50% On the technical skills, we need to hire the job skills 50% on that, and 50% on culture fit. Because we work hard, we spent a lot of time together, we want to make sure people fit in with with us, and that we're all going to get along and get the work done. And Wendy, I bought into that, like Yeah, 50% skills 50% on culture fit that sounds good. We hired and or excuse me interviewed and then hired based on that formula. Okay, I since I've learned that culture fit is really bias, it's by its code for bias of being they're not like us, they're different from us. They, they're just, they don't remind me of my younger self, maybe you know, something along those lines. It's code for bias. And so now, I've learned that we shouldn't be hiring for culture fit. values fit is okay. Like we have values as an organization, we do want to interview for that that's fine. But not that culture fit, which is so vague. It might also show up like this, you know, it's the past the beer test, would you want to, would you want to go out for a beer after work with this person, or it's called the layover test? Could I imagine being stuck on a long layover with this person, if they were to join our consulting firm, for example, whenever we encounter these kinds of comments that are really veiled racism, or discrimination, veiled bias, we should speak up as an ally and say something like, you know, I actually think they would be a culture add, they would bring something to our team that we do not have today. And that is going to help us deliver on our business objectives. So let's rethink that. Of course, that's what you can say in the moment, to be that ally, and look for the systemic change. Let's build on that, again. Don't be the night saving that one candidate that's being discussed, but how can you look for systemic change and make change there will make sure that there are structured interview techniques, for example, that every candidate gets asked the same questions in the same order to help remove that bias, and that you have a rubric for evaluating how you are going to be measuring those candidate responses to your questions, like be very scientific about this to remove the bias. Yeah, wow.

Wendy Hanson  18:26  

That part is fascinating to me, because we really do talk a lot about culture fit even in our organization, how are we going to have a good culture fit? You know, which means we'll all play well together? You know, and the question about who would I spend the, you know, would be okay to spend a night at the airport with if I was stuck with them. I remember that as a Google question, way back in the day, you know, but what should we be doing? And I love that you said values, you know, make sure they share the same values. Any other hints for people in hiring?

Karen Catlin  19:00  

No, absolutely. I could talk for hours on this. Another thing that we can do is to make sure that our job descriptions are very concise, really down like stripped down to the bones almost. When I used to hire 20, I used to copy the last job description that I used for a similar position, make a few changes probably add to it. And these job descriptions can get pretty bloated, so bloated that like is any candidate actually going to be able to hit all these things? And it's good to take a step back and take things out that aren't truly required or could be learned on the job. With every single requirement you have, I recommend asking yourself, okay, so we want five years of whatever. Ask yourself hmm, the ideal candidate came along with only three years of that whatever would we hire them? And if the answer is yes, then you should remove that that requirement because clearly, it's not really a requirement to have five years of experience doing that thing. So that's another thing we can do. And the backs that the research that backs up why we should do that is, there have been a handful of studies looking at women as well as others who are underrepresented in their field, who don't apply for jobs unless they can check off every single thing that's listed. Whereas a man, for example, will apply. If I've got about, you know, 50 6070, it kind of depends on the study you look at, but some portion of the requirements because I'm awesome, and I'm sure I can learn it all on the job. That's the mindset. So by removing and simplifying those job descriptions, we're going to cast a wider net for women and others who are underrepresented.

Wendy Hanson  20:55  

Oh, I love that. And I have seen that study about men. You know, if I have a little bit of it, I can apply anyway. And women just are so I want to be able to know that I could do this job to even have this interview. Yeah, it's a different mindset. Wow. So what's the biggest challenge that holds people back from being allies? You know, we're in a company, we've seen things happen, what what holds people back?

Karen Catlin  21:21  

Yeah, I believe it's the fear of making a mistake. I don't want to be canceled. If I say the wrong thing, right, that canceled culture, I don't usually talk about race will say, and I don't know what words I can use and what's okay to use or not and everything. We're just not sure what to do or say. And we may be even fearful of making a mistake, making creating more damage maybe than was already in place, whatever. And so we step back, we just don't get involved. And in my book, as you know, there are so many examples I give of, okay, if you're not sure what to say, think about saying this, I want people to have some phrases that feel very comfortable to them that they can quote unquote, put in their back pocket and pull them out when they need them so that they do speak up when they are witnessing any kind of racism, sexism, or other kinds of discrimination. Now, what are some examples? Let's, let's bring this home here with some examples. There are traumatic events that happen in our world in our news all the time. Imagine and think back on when George Floyd was murdered in the summer of 2020. Think back on the shootings of the spa workers in Atlanta a number of years ago, who were from the Asian American community,

traumatic events that impact probably certain co workers that we have are many co workers. And do I say anything? Do I not say them, you know, you might be going through this whole, you know, thought process in your head. And what I keep hearing from people who were impacted by these traumatic events is yes, say something. Because otherwise, I feel like no one cares about me. And don't say no, I'm distracted and thinking and worrying. And I'll you know, whatever it might be. So it's okay to speak up. And perhaps it's a simple, Hey, I've been paying attention to the news, and I wanted to check in how are you doing? That might be enough. And then lead, you know, take that lead from there. Another thing I love to recommend is, we all hear jokes that are maybe offensive or a little off color, maybe not even offensive to someone right within hearing distance in the room. But they're really like, did you really mean to say that kind of a joke is what we're thinking that doesn't seem quite right seems a little maybe discriminatory or offensive in some way. What are you going to do when you hear one of those? Well, here's some ideas. You could say, Hey, I don't get it. Can you explain the joke to me? Which forces someone to kind of get, you know, step back and confront any biases or discriminate? Discriminatory thoughts they might be having? Yeah.

Wendy Hanson  24:22  

Yeah. I love that you give some scripts, because I find that all the time in many different subjects, when people don't give feedback because they don't know how to get into a conversation. They don't know how to say this and be empathetic, you know, that's really important. And I think that's what you're speaking about. Yeah. And we're gonna make mistakes, right? And how do we clean those up when we make mistakes?

Karen Catlin  24:50  

That is part of the ally journey is you're gonna make mistakes. Because the opposite or the only way to never make a mistake is As to never do or say anything. And that basically means folks that we are being complicit with the status quo, we are just fine with how things are playing out here. So we are, we should speak up,


we should do something, and we are going to get, make some mistakes. So get comfortable with that. There a couple of things that I do and when to even though I have all these books, and I speak about this topic all the time, and I have a weekly newsletter I send out where I share a lot of additional ideas. I make mistakes myself, I spend all my waking hours I feel like thinking about ally ship and I still make mistakes. And when people point them out to me,

I embrace this mindset of be curious, not furious. Be curious, not furious. I heard this from a woman on a podcast rooms Kat Gordon, and she admits she heard it from a therapist, I think. So I think it's a really good mindset for a lot of different things. But when someone points out that we've not been as inclusive as we could or we've made a mistake, don't get defensive. That's natural to think defensive thoughts initially. But instead be curious about what they're telling you do some work, do some Google searches understand this a little bit more, instead of getting that furious or that defensiveness.


So that's that's one thing. Of course, apologize with sincerity. Not a lot. I'm sorry if I offended anyone. No, you did offend someone if they pointed it out, right? None of that apologize with sincerity? I am sorry. And here's what I'm learning here. Here's what I'm going to do differently. That's how we that's how we apologize. Anyways, a question

Wendy Hanson  26:41  

on that. Could we also ask the question, depending on what the circumstances, but you know, what, what's a better way for me to be able to do this so I can learn in the future? After you apologize? Yeah, it can

Karen Catlin  26:55  

be with and I'm going to caveat it with this understanding, too, that we should not be asking people who are underrepresented to do the work for us. There are some much material on Google, or your favorite search engine that you can leverage. And you should do that work yourself. Go read about it, learn about it, and so forth. If you have a really good relationship, and it seems like it's a very fast question, that sounds like a fast answer that someone could give to your question. Of course, you should talk to them about it. I don't mean to say don't talk about these things. But don't put a burden on someone else to teach you about how you should be a better ally. That's why I'm here and many other people do in this work.

Wendy Hanson  27:39  

Yes. Thank you. That's a that's a great way to be able to understand that because, yeah, I hadn't thought about that, in that way of you're making them do the work. Yeah. And that's that. Yeah. And and I love be curious, not furious. Yeah. That that's, that's a great tagline to remember. And, you know, most recently, you wrote about belonging in healthcare. Why did you branch out? You know, you're the tech person and you're the engineer. Tell us why he branched out into healthcare services.

Karen Catlin  28:10  

Such a good question. Okay. So I have a good friend from college, who is a physician, his wife is also a physician. Now, my friend, Paul, good friend, he read my first book, better allies, and because he wanted to support me, and he told his wife, the physician, like you need to read Karen's book. And she said, You know, I like your friend, Karen. But I really don't want to read a book about being a woman in tech, no thanks. And he kept bugging her and bugging her. And finally, she sat down to read it. And what she told me afterwards was, Karen, I'm sorry, it took me so long. But when I did open it up, I read it cover to cover, I could not put it down. And I'm going to paraphrase her here. She said something along the lines of your book is going to help me be a better leader as a woman. And it's going to help me deliver better deliver better patient care. And when she told me that I could not believe it. I was like, Wait a second, how could my book about being in these white collar workplaces when it really comes down to it? How can that help someone deliver better patient care, but I talked to her more about it and understood that more about what she meant by that in that it's going to give her that empathy. And it's going to allow her to create a workplace where all of the people working there are respectful and inclusive of each other. And that lets the patients see that that inclusive nature that respect. And when patients pick up on this care team is giving me their full respect. I'm going to respect their guidance. I'm going to do the follow up. I'm going to take the medications I'm going to come for my next appointment. I couldn't believe it. Well, again, sometimes things take The longtime Wendy, so she told me that, and then I started over the next year and a half roughly, I started getting speaking engagements at different health care organizations and research hospitals and so forth to speak about better allies. And then I was like, Okay, it's not just my, my friend over here, who thinks this is applicable. It's all these other people think it's applicable, that's sending me a message that I need to write a new book. And I because I am not in healthcare, I had to do a lot of research to create belonging in health care. And I interviewed dozens of people who are healthcare professionals, nurses, doctors, administrators, physical therapists, and so forth. And a lot of online research and came up with a version of better allies that has just all examples for health care settings.

Wendy Hanson  30:50  

That's great. Well, I know a number of people in health care that I will recommend that too, because I love the examples that you give that it's going to impact your patients. Yeah, in a very positive way, if they see this going on. Is there anything else that you know, I didn't ask you I should have or that you want to leave people with? Because, you know, change starts with a single step. And, you know, that's really important.

Karen Catlin  31:18  

Yes, change starts with a single step. Absolutely love that. And being an ally is a journey, we have to get started somewhere, maybe your listeners are already doing some of these things, which is great. I bet. There's more for them to learn, keep going keep learning, keep adding understanding of the issues to your repertoire and these actions that you might be able to take. And if you really haven't been paying attention to this yet, it's not too late to start. We all can start by doing something. And you know, in my book, I have so many ideas of things you could be doing differently. So identify something you could start being more aware of and doing and keep learning keep building. I just really think that it's I don't want people to not do this, because it seems overwhelming. And it's too much to learn. Oh, no, this is not that hard to learn to get started. And there are things you could be doing every single day at work to be more inclusive.

Wendy Hanson  32:16  

Yeah, I have to bring up one more example that really was was so impactful. To me in the book, it was a whole section you had on housekeeping, whether it's housekeeping in the office, in terms of meetings, who takes notes, and cleaning up coffee cups, things that these are little things that people may not realize are really big things. Can you speak to that a little bit as our kind of last question?

Karen Catlin  32:40  

Yeah, yeah, this office housework, as you said, runs the gamut of all sorts of different activities, taking the notes at a meeting, if that's not your job, or it might be cleaning up the, you know, the coffee cups or bringing the leftover pizza to the lunch room and putting a note on it saying up for grabs or something like that. Whenever I give talks on being better allies, I actually love asking the audience for examples of what comes to mind when I say office housework. And people just start either in the chat or if it's live, they start shouting things out. There are so many examples, collecting money for the coworkers baby shower, you know, for a gift card, making reservations at the lunch after the client meeting. Finding everybody's schedules and figure out the next time we can meet pinging people who are late to the meeting to get them in there and like messaging them, it goes on and on and on. So there are so many examples of this. Now, the research shows that women and especially women of color are expected to do more of this office housework than their male peers. And this office housework, it's expected the women and women of color are going to do it. And what happens, of course, is the people who are doing this office housework, it's busy work, it's taking away from more substantial work that they could be doing, or being more involved in that meeting if they're not trying to ping everybody or take the notes and kind of a step behind the conversation and so forth. Oh my gosh, when a few years ago, I was doing a consulting project for a large semiconductor company. And I was at a meeting for their women in tech steering committee, basically a group of people who are organizing events throughout the year for the steering committee. They had a monthly meeting where they got together. And this one meeting I was at the organizer opened her laptop, and she had already figured out a best practice here. It was nobody's job to take notes at this monthly committee meeting. So they had set up a rotation schedule. And she opened her laptop and said, let me see whose turn it is to take the notes. There's also a list of people who rotated through timekeeping for the agenda. So she Through listing it was Brian's turn to take the notes. Now Brian was the one male ally on the steering committee for the women in tech initiative. And he then said, you know, I'm not that good at taking notes, somebody else should do it. And here again, here's another example of how I was an ally. Will snore, snarky, but I said to him, Hey, Brian, practice makes perfect. And this is the perfect place to practice. Because I did not want I wasn't gonna let him the one guy get out of his fair share doing his fair share of that office housework for that group. I mean, he took the notes, it was fine. It was. So we can't set up rotations, that's a good best practice, and make sure we hold people accountable for taking their turns if we do have those rotation schedules. One last thing on this, I remember meeting a man who had attended a workshop of mine, like the previous year, and we were both at a conference and he came up to me said, Karen, I want to let you know, I learned a lot from your workshop. But one thing I always do now, and this was before the pandemic before all the work from home, but one thing I always do now is, whenever we have lunch, I always make sure that I help clean up the lunch and bring the leftovers to the kitchen. He does that. And he was a director of a very large group. He sets us he's he does the work himself. And he sets the right tone for everybody else. He's he's been a good role model for good ally ship as well.

Wendy Hanson  36:32  

Yeah. And that's what you need. You need more more allies like that at upper levels that are going to people will say, Well, I guess that's not such a demeaning task to bring the pizza in. Because look at so and so is doing it. Yeah. Great example. Great example. Well, this has been wonderful. We could talk for hours. I know that this is, it's lovely to have such an expert and researcher on this subject. If people want to connect with you, what's the best way for them to do that? Karen?

Karen Catlin  37:01  

Yeah, better. allies.com is a great website to visit. And then I'm also on social media, such as Twitter and Instagram, as better allies. And if you're up late, if LinkedIn is your platform of choice, you can find me at Karen Catlin.

Wendy Hanson  37:18  

Great. So thank you for taking the time to be with us sharing your wisdom. I think, you know, I love it when we have things that we can leave here and say and have an AHA about. And there are a lot of highs that come out of your work and your book. So I really appreciate what you've done. Thank you. Thank you, Wendy. Yes. Well, everybody, take this to heart and be an ally and go look at some of Karen's resources if you're not sure, and connect with her because I think it's going to be if we all take one little step at a time, we're going to move faster together. So thank you all have a marvelous day.

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