106. Karen Catlin – Generous Allyship

Episode 106 Karen Catlin cover art

One of my favorite approaches for giving people feedback on non-inclusive language or other non-inclusive behavior. And that is, seek common ground and then educate.” – Karen Catlin

“Be curious, not furious.” – Karen Catlin

Guest Bio:

After spending 25 years building software products and serving as a vice president of engineering at Macromedia and Adobe, Karen Catlin witnessed a sharp decline in the number of women working in tech. Frustrated but galvanized, she knew it was time to switch gears.

In 2014, Karen started the Twitter handle @betterallies to share simple, actionable steps that anyone could take to make their workplaces more inclusive. That Twitter handle became the inspiration for three books: Better Allies®: Everyday Actions to Create Inclusive, Engaging Workplaces, The Better Allies Approach to Hiring, and Belonging in Healthcare. She also emails a roundup of “5 Ally Actions” to over 30,000 newsletter subscribers every week.

A self-professed public speaking geek, Karen is a highly sought-after and engaging presenter who has delivered talks at hundreds of conferences and corporate events. Her TEDx talk, “Women in Tech: The Missing Force,” explores the decline in gender diversity in tech, why it’s a problem, and what can be done about it. In addition to speaking herself, Karen is determined to change the ratio for who is on stage giving keynotes and other presentations. To support her goal of bringing more diversity to speaker lineups at tech industry events, she coauthored the book Present! A Techie’s Guide to Public Speaking with Poornima Vijayashanker.

In addition to speaking about her books, Karen coaches women to be stronger leaders and men to be better allies for members of all underrepresented groups. Her client roster includes Airbnb, DoorDash, Google, eBay, and Intuit. Her writing on leadership has appeared in Inc., the Daily Beast, Fast Company, and the Muse, and she’s consulted on articles for the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the New York Times.

Karen is a graduate and active alum of Brown University, mentoring students on how to launch their careers. She’s also a member of the board of directors of Digital NEST and on the advisory boards for the Women’s CLUB of Silicon Valley and WEST (Women Entering & Staying in Technology). In 2015, the California State Assembly honored Karen with the Wonder Women Tech Innovator Award for outstanding achievements in business and technology and for being a role model for women.

Guest Favorite Quote: 

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

R.O.G. Takeaway Tips:

  1. Share the spotlight.
  2. Take the 50 Potential Privileges Checklist 
  3. Share office housework
  4. Set up your profile with inclusive requirements. (closed captions, diverse panels, etc.) 
  5. Keep growing on the journey. Subscribe to 5 Ally Actions for specific ideas on how to continue to grow. 


Coming Next:

Episode 107, Building Bridges Coaching Tips for Generous Leaders with Shannon Cassidy. Topic: Generous V.I.B.E.  


Karen Catlin, Sheep Jam Productions, Host Shannon Cassidy, Bridge Between, Inc.

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