Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.

Chris Kilmartin

Toxic Culture: Workplace Diversity and Inclusion, For Me, or For You?


Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance,” Verna Myers.

By Karetta Hubbard, Lynne Revo-Cohen, Gwen Crider, and Dr. Chris Kilmartin

Gwen Crider, an internationally recognized diversity expert, has been writing about, teaching and implementing successful diversity initiatives for more than twenty years. What follows are her thoughts about the importance of understanding diversity and inclusion both personally and in the workplace.

At the beginning of a training day on workforce diversity and Inclusion, the first question usually heard from participants is, “What exactly is diversity and Inclusion, and what do they mean together?” (or, TO ME? Implied)

What is diversity?

When hearing the term diversity, most people think first of the obvious human differences such as race, ethnicity and gender identity. All of which are correct.

Though, most importantly, diversity encompasses all of the cultural, psychological, physical, and social differences that make each of us unique. In addition to the visible characteristics such as race, ethnicity and age, diversity also includes invisible characteristics such as socio-economic status, beliefs, and values. Plus, it includes differences of thought and life experiences.

Both visible and invisible characteristics of diversity can significantly influence our perspectives, perceptions and actions. As a fact of life, diversity is always present when individuals come together, even amongst people with similar visible characteristics. Consider, for example, two same-sex twins who were raised in the same household, attended the same schools and, on the surface were “identical” to the casual observer. But, one of the twins excels in music, the other in sports; thus, there is diversity among closest of siblings. And, to add to the mix, one is a Republican and the other is a Democrat.  Dinner conversations are always ……..interesting.

In the workplace, diversity also includes different work styles and preferences. Research has shown that diverse workforces result in: 

    • Greater creativity and innovation
    • Better problem-solving
    • Stronger organizational performance and outcomes

So, how do we as different and unique beings bring our “A” game to work, all get along suitably so that our Company products are not only made well, but delivered on time and on budget?

What is inclusion, and can it make a difference?

While it is true that diversity leads to better outcomes, it takes inclusive practices to get to those better outcomes. Because of the different experiences, perspectives and preferences we all bring to the workplace, conflict is a natural occurrence.   Communication styles such as language, interpretation of the same circumstances, and cultural expectations can be barriers to understanding each other. Resistance to change: a new person from a different culture than most in the organization might cause friction; someone new on the team may have other ideas about how the work should be done, causing those that have been in the positions longest thinking that “we have always done it this way, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

To achieve the benefits of diversity, organizations must intentionally work to create and sustain an inclusive environment; one where everyone feels valued, respected and able to bring their whole selves to work.  Inclusion then is a statement about what the workplace looks like when diversity is truly embraced and valued.  

We know that when We feel valued, respected and included, we do our best work and our organization benefits. Forward-thinking workplaces are not content to simply say they value diversity, they actively work to ensure that everyone’s ideas are heard – especially when they “go against the flow.” Though it can initially seem messy, it is from the messiness of diverse perspectives that creativity, innovative and better outcomes are born. With training and practice, diverse employees can learn to work together effectively despite their differences and, indeed, they can thrive. Helping employees learn to practice “both/and” thinking where they build on each other’s ideas rather than deciding only one can be right so the other must be wrong is a pathway to creating an inclusive workplace where the benefits of diversity can be fully realized.   

Remember the twins? They practice problem solving and communication skills every night at dinner. All of these initiatives lead to better insights and creativity.

 Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”  Helen Keller

Next Week Unconscious Bias

Please send your comments to WATExplorer@gmail.com.

Top photo: Bigstock

WAT-CAST – Karetta Hubbard and Lynne Revo-Cohen Talk About Sexual Harassment


The headlines keep coming, forcing another high level executive to resign after women come forward alleging sexual misconduct in the workplace.  Karetta Hubbard and Lynne-Revo Cohen, launched NewPoint Strategies more than 30 years ago and built a reputation for helping corporations deal with serious issues, including sexual harassment and sexual assault. Along with Chris Kilmartin and Gwen Crider, they have been sharing their expertise with our readers in a series called “Toxic Culture.” In this podcast, Karetta and Lynne talk with Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti about a topic that continues to dominate the news. Click to listen.

Top photo: Bigstock

Toxic Culture: Eraser Phrases Can’t Eliminate What Came Before or After


By Karetta Hubbard, Lynne Revo-Cohen, Gwen Crider, and Dr. Chris Kilmartin. 

Dr. Kilmartin provided the powerful phrases in this week’s article. The team filled in the rest …..

“An eraser phrase is a few words placed at the beginning, or end, of a sentence that allows the speaker to abdicate responsibility for offensive and/or prejudicial speech and also reduce the chances that listeners will confront them,” explains Kilmartin.

Fun with eraser phrases! You hear this at the beginning of the sentence. What kinds of things might end the sentence?

At an important meeting that you need to be at the top of your game:

  • Don’t take this the wrong way… 

What’s with the foggy brain today, have a rough night or something?”

But did you mean to wear all black before you discuss positive outcomes for the company’s growth?

  • Would it be sexual harassment if I said…?

Your lookin’ mighty fine in that sweater today…

We need to impress this client, how about you be really nice to him, if you know what I mean     

  • Not to be racist, but…

I dated a black girl/guy once, so I am totally open-minded…

What if I said, “shut up and dribble?” as Laura Ingrahm, talk show host, actually said to LeBron James…

This diversity thing is making it tough to hire the right person…

  • I would never be one to blame the victim, but…

Did you see what she was wearing, give me a break, she was asking for it …

Why’d she meet with him at the hotel?  Talk about mixed signals…

  • With all due respect…

Enough said!  Suggests No Respect.

We’re not done! Eraser phrases can also come at the end of the sentence. This time we’ll write what comes at the end, and you write what you might hear at the beginning.  What have you heard as well?

  • …I don’t mean that in a bad way.

Think about what was said before the other person says this phrase.

Your hair is sooo curly, I shouldn’t be honest? 

Sometimes you are too direct when speaking to others, no wonder people avoid you….

  • …just kidding

You are so dumb around girls, no wonder they won’t go out with you..

  • …no offense

I don’t mean to offend you, but you are dead wrong… 

Has anyone ever told you that you talk too much?

  • …just sayin’

Try not to be so critical, everything is not about you…,

That idea will never work….,

And classics, which can come at either the beginning or the end:

  • Bless her heart!
  • God love ‘em.


At the beginning of the article, Chris asks the reader to have “fun” with these eraser phrases. If you have an answer to one of these or more, please send to us. If you have one to add, please do! Each remark or comment contributes to the conversation, which is the key to understanding and culture change. Please send them to WATExplorer@gmail.com and we will publish them. Thanks!

Top photo: Bigstock

Toxic Culture: Enlisting Men as Allies


By Karetta Hubbard, Lynne Revo-Cohen, Gwen Crider, and Dr. Chris Martin

“Most men are fair-minded; they like women, are friends with women, and are offended by sexism (Kilmartin & Berkowitz, 2005). However, they overestimate other men’s sexism (Kilmartin et al., 2008). When progressive men and women let them know that they are not alone in their egalitarian desires and invite them to join in antisexism efforts, many men respond in a positive way.”

How Men are Socialized Determines Their Behavior 

Imagine you are Dave….Stepping off the elevator, briefcase in one hand and coffee in the other, I walk past Carmen and instead of the usual, “Lookin’ sharp today Dave,” I get, “The meeting has started, you better get yourself in the conference room.” “Ummm” I wonder, what’s bugging her; hope it’s not me.

Slowly entering the rear door, moving against the wall I inch my way to the back of the room.  Folks are four-deep between me, the conference table and the boss standing in front, facing us.    

“As most of you know by now, we have had three Sexual Harassment reports filed here in the last month. This is not acceptable. The reports do seem to be credible; however, they are still being investigated. Please know there is no rush to judgement. But, this is the last thing our company needs. I am putting all employees on notice that this behavior will not be tolerated.” 

Continuing, he says, “look, these incidents took place in front of other people, but no one came forward except the harassed to let Human Resources know the incidents occurred. Can any of you tell me why no one defended or spoke up while these insults were going on”? There is silence.

I raise my hand. “Boss, I was there. I didn’t know what to say. The guys are my friends, and well, some of what they said was just joking around and really, everybody seemed to think it was funny.” Nervous laughter ripples across the room. Steely stare penetrates from him to me. Uh oh, I am so toast. How can I take my foot out of my mouth, I wonder.

“Are the women your friends?” a new voice asks. My head whips around and my eyes meet a woman, and my head flops to one side, eyes down; I am wishing I were anywhere but here. 

“Folks, meet Inez, our new Director of Human Resources, here to teach us facts about gender disparities and how to engage in Bystander Intervention. Most importantly, though, to teach us all how to be Allies. 

Inez asks no one in particular, “So, why did Dave not speak up? Research tells us that men’s fears of other men’s disapproval are based in distorted social norm beliefs. Men who tell sexist jokes or refer to women by animal names or the names of their genitals, also offend most men and tend to overestimate other men’s acceptance of these attitudes. Men routinely are bothered by other men’s sexism, but believe that they are unusual in this reaction because they are comparing their inner experience with other men’s verbal replies.”

Dave chimes in, “So if I had said something to the men who were saying sexist comments, the other men in the group would have appreciated my thoughts?”  

“Exactly,” she says. “In fact, they probably would have supported and agreed with you.”

“Really?” asks Dave. “Really,” she retorts.

Inez proceeds, “We are discussing how most men who behave in sexist ways do so to win the approval of other men.  Interestingly, many men who hold more favorable views of women do not challenge other men’s sexism because they fear their disapproval.  At the interpersonal level, sexism will not stop until men lose social status with their male peers for engaging in it.” 

“I, for one,” says a woman in the front row, “am tired of the lewd comments and innuendo, and the thought that I am ‘less than’ in men’s eyes.  There may be more going on here psychologically and socially than I know, but if this is a societal issue that stems from taught sexism, it is time to eradicate it.” Applause erupts among the women, and then Dave, says, “here, here!” Supportive laughs and snorts from the group. 

Inez follows with, “There is a lot to unlearn of the socialized differences between us. One way is to identify Everyday Allies. As a company, we can begin a series of discussions, called Crucial Conversations to identify negative and positive behaviors, how to address them, and what to say to one another when witnessing inappropriate behavior. Dave, you would have a language to speak to your male colleagues.”

Dave nods approvingly. “Yea, maybe ‘knock it off, not funny’ for starters.”

Question:  have some of you men been in a situation you wish you could confront and change the direction of the message?  If so, please send your comments in and we will publish them.

The preceding is based on Kilmartin, C. T. (2017).  Male allies to women. In J. Schwarz (Ed.), Counseling women across the lifespan: Empowerment, advocacy, and intervention. New York: Springer.

Next Week: How to be an Ally

Since 1984 the founders of NewPoint Strategies, Karetta Hubbard and Lynne Revo-Cohen, have built a strong reputation for delivering extremely effective prevention training in high-risk issues such as sexual harassment/assault.  Contributing Author and Lead Consultant, Chris Kilmartin, Ph.D, Emeritus Professor of Psychology from the University of Mary Washington, is an expert in Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention, specifically Male Violence Against Women. Gwen Crider is a Diversity Expert. For more information, go to the website for NewPoint Strategies.

Photos from Bigstock