Karen’s Story: Digby

“What I learned from Karen is…”

“Earlier in my career, I worked for a software company that was acquired by Adobe Systems. In the first few months following the acquisition, I noticed something happening in engineering leadership meetings.

My new manager, Digby Horner, who had been at Adobe for many years, started prefacing things with, ‘What I learned from Karen is…’ He then went on to summarize an earlier discussion we’d had.

He demonstrated a great deal of respect for me in front of my new colleagues. The simple phrase of ‘What I learned from Karen’ made me feel great; who wouldn’t want to be recognized for teaching their more experienced manager something new. I think it was the ultimate compliment.

It was also a strong action of sponsorship.

Each time Digby said those words, he helped me build credibility with my new colleagues. He took action as an ally, using his position of privilege to sponsor me. His shout-out strengthened my reputation as a technical leader, and definitely made me feel great.

This story is just one of many that I’ve witnessed over my career. Situations when allies stepped up with simple, everyday actions that made a difference. Often a big difference.

I firmly believe that being an ally isn’t so hard, and that it is a journey. Whether you’re just embarking on it, or have already traveled far, I recommend checking out @betterallies on Twitter or Medium.  You’ll get straight-forward ideas for creating a more inclusive work culture where all can thrive.”

– Karen, Adocate for Women in Tech, karencatlin.com
San Francisco Bay Area, CA

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