When I first heard Karen Catlin was visiting Druva for a presentation based on her book “Better Allies: Everyday Actions to Create Inclusive, Engaging Workplaces”, to say I was excited was an understatement. If you are unfamiliar with Karen, she is a leadership coach, keynote speaker, author, and passionate advocate for inclusion in the workplace, specifically tech companies. Being a woman in tech (and a big fan of Karen), I was eager and humbled to get a first hand experience from someone so admirable.
Being part of the Druva family, some of our core values that drive us forward include encouraging diversity of thought, thinking and acting as one team, and encouraging a challenger mentality. As we are a fast-growing company and looking to the future, having Karen share her knowledge and passion for inclusion and diversity in tech was something valuable not only to myself but to our company as a whole.
So what are the important aspects of an engaging and inclusive workplace? The essence of the better allies approach is learning how to spot situations where you can create a more inclusive culture, along with a set of straightforward steps to take to build that culture. This approach covers how to create a culture where everyone, including you, can do their best work and thrive.
Let’s dive deeper into how Karen walked us through how to be a better ally.
Meetings, language, and you guessed it, housework
Karen shared common actions that take place in meetings: things like manterruptions ( where women are often interrupted by men), idea hijacking, and unconscious demotions as components that hinder the overall success. With Druva’s values of “one team” and “diversity of thought” in mind, I immediately thought we need to be the proponents of making sure these things don’t happen. The steps we can take include: using our voice to self-advocate more, communicating more often vs keeping silent and leaving it to others to make the point, and taking action by pointing it out when we notice exclusive behavior happening.
Language is a big one here. There are industry standard words that are just inherently part of the realm we work in. Unconsciously using this language can create exclusivity in the workplace and overall, does not properly represent a company’s values but we can change that. To help disrupt this, it’s pretty easy. We simply start to use inclusive language, become mindful of our language and evolve it, leverage a bot like betterallies.com/language, create a “language matters” forum to discuss words and alternatives, maybe using a Slack channel to help support this effort.
What is office housework? Karen defined office housework as something that is not part of the job, but you are tasked to do anyways like taking notes, scheduling the follow-up meeting, cleaning whiteboards, etc. But there is a silent impact to office housework that includes: the creation of subservient roles, time taken away from important work, interruption of flow, and preventing full participation. She reported that 47 percent of women report being asked to do low-level tasks that men are not asked to do. She also noted that, as women, we often volunteer to do the tasks. Hmm…
They key takeaways from this are to look out for it and disrupt it. This doesn’t mean to stop volunteering for office housework, but to find a balance. Prioritize. Share the load. Know when to say no, when to delegate, and utilize that challenger mentality to achieve this.
Having Karen come share her knowledge was truly an inspirational moment for the Druva family. I walked away with a better understanding of what it means to generate everyday actions that create inclusive, engaging workplaces and felt a sense of pride as a woman in tech, just like Karen and can now call myself an #inclusion advocate. At Druva, we are constantly taking strides as one team to be the best we can inside and outside of work, and needless to say, I am so proud to be part of such an amazing company.
If you are interested in collaborating with talented, motivated, passionate individuals in a friendly, fast-paced environment, visit our careers page. Interested in learning more about Karen Catlin? Find her at www.karencatlin.com or at www.betterallies.com.