The Cultural Synergist

Insights for the month with Dr Tom Verghese
The Cultural Synergist- Insights for the month

June 2023

Issue # 182

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Calling out Clients...

Engaging with clients is part of the deep satisfaction I have in doing the work I do as a consultant. It is always intriguing to meet clients and enter their world, understand their organisations, challenges and journey with them to achieve outcomes and shifts. Building trust and developing relationships is a core value of what I do.

We started working with a new client over the last few months on a project. In one of our meetings the client made some very stereotypical and gender biased comments. It was quite uncomfortable for me to witness this and as there other team members in the meeting I did not ‘call it out.’ Reflecting upon it later, I realised the depth to which the comments were inappropriate. I should have called it out and made the person aware that they were perhaps being biased in their approach.

This is always a very delicate balance when working with clients, as maintaining trust and respect while also being true to the values of the work we do can be challenging. Mishandling the situation could jeopardise the relationship and the work. At the same time clients must realise when they engage with consultants, they are seeking an external point of view and they do need to be open to what may be observed and engage in candid conversations even if it is uncomfortable.

Going forward, I think it will be useful to speak with the client in a one on one meeting and provide feedback what I noticed.

We teach the skill of calling out and calling in as a strategy for dealing with bias- it is important to practice what we ourselves preach.

What are your experiences with calling out clients? What worked well and what would you do differently?

Quote of the month:


“I raise up my voice, not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard. We cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”

-Malala Yousafzai


Book recommendation:




The Song of Significance, Seth Godin

The Song of Significance is a rousing contemplation on work: why it is the way it is, why it’s gotten so bad, what all of us–especially leaders–can do to make it better.

Economic instability and the rise of remote work have left us disconnected and disengaged. Alarmed managers are responding with harsh top-down edicts, layoffs, surveillance and mandatory meetings. Workers are responding by quiet quitting and working their wage yet it doesn't have to be this way.

Legendary business author Seth Godin gets to the heart of what ails us; he shows what’s really at the root of these trends, and challenges us to do better in ways that matter.

The choice is simple. We can endure the hangover of industrial capitalism, keep treating people as disposable, and join in the AI-fueled race to the bottom. Or we come together to build a significant organization that engages, empowers, and trusts everyone to deliver their best work, no matter where they are.

This is a book to share with bosses and co-workers, to discuss and put to action. No matter what our role, it’s within our power to change. Because, as Godin writes, “Humans aren’t a resource. They are the point.”