Investing in Lasting Culture Change with Mita Mallick

What is gaslighting?

Gaslighting refers to manipulative actions that cause one to question their reality.
Gaslighting was originally only understood in the confines of personal relationships. Mita Mallick and many others have done the work to bring awareness to gaslighting as something that also occurs frequently, even if unintentionally, in our workplaces.

Who is Mita Mallick?

Mita Mallick is the Head of Inclusion, Equity, and Impact at Carta. In this episode she exposes company culture killers and how to stop them. She also shares strategies for building community at work, holding leaders accountable, and investing in lasting change. She shares anecdotes and insight on gaslighting and how to build community in the workplace.

What does it mean to be a gaslighter?

A Gaslighter is someone who “says one thing to you the individual, but another to a larger group.” An example of gaslighting might be a manager who agrees to have you present a proposal at an important meeting, but never sends you the a calendar invite. When confronted, they deny ever agreeing to you attending or presenting the proposal. Afterward, you hear others say you told your boss that you had to take a vacation day and weren’t able to make it. In other words, you are promised or told one thing but another version of the “truth” is told to people around you.

Some Common Traits or Behaviors of a Gaslighter Are:


Manipulates peers


Exhibits low self-worth or self-esteem


Constantly points out others’ flaw


Responds negatively to criticism


Shows narcissistic tendencies

Spotting Red Flag Language

Red flag language may not always indicate gaslighting but is harmful nonetheless. It often times creates tension between workers and if persistent, it becomes a cause of voluntary termination (quits). Common red flag language in the workplace might sound like:

Don’t be so sensitive.


You don’t know what you're talking about.


You’re being defensive.


You’re making too big a deal out of it.

Community Belonging

Mita Mallick offered this advice to companies experiencing excessive employee turnover: build a community. While culture is what companies promote and offer, employees are really in search of a belonging to a community. To create a community-like culture, employees must feel they are treated with respect, are valued, and have a seat at the table. That sense of belonging creates loyalty and helps keep employees right where you want them – on your payroll, not the competition.

Hiring Culture Fit

Hiring employees who fit your culture has become a buzzword recently.. Unfortunately the metrics and criteria to create the selection filters for culture fit are often very subjective. It brings into question how HR and hiring managers can discern between diverse talent who aren’t skillfully qualified and those that don’t fit the culture without introducing various forms of bias.
The foundation of culture fit and community are often based on similarity, creating harmony, and avoiding disagreement. Culture and community often infers that employees share common values, reach similar decisions, approach work similarly, and share common goals. But what makes one fit well into the community may be the very thing that excludes diversity of color, gender, ethnicity, and even thought. It’s not that hiring employees who fit your culture is a bad idea. It’s just tricky to navigate and more complicated than just hiring people who “share your values.”

To hear more about hiring for community and culture,

What Does Employee Loyalty Feel Like:


Employees feel valued


Employees feel they are contributing


Employees feel they are seen


Employees feel they share a common cause


Employees feel they have a seat at the table (they voices matter)

How to Combat Retention Issues

Struggling with employee retention. Mita offers good advice: conduct and analyze exit interviews. “Treat exit interviews with the same respect that you treat customer reviews.” In other words, customer reviews are seen as an indicator of what needs to be done to continue turning a profit. Exit interviews do the same thing and should be approached the same way. Exit interviews also offer the added benefit of holding managers accountable and expose management problems that are festering culture killers.

Time Line:

5:47 What is gaslighting?

11:45 Red Flag Language

13:36 The manipulative gaslighting ex-manager

14:34 “Why don't we treat our exit reviews with that same level of respect:”

15:00 “People need therapy

16:37“Companies are building culture, but what they really want to do is build community”

18:37 How to build community?

25:50 “Culture hire can be a dangerous phrase”

11:45 Red Flag Language