Laurie Swanson Blog

Changing Office Culture - The NEW Swear Jar

A friend told me a story about a recent golf outing. Her foursome included herself, a more senior female colleague, a female pro golfer and a male client.
In the midst of a beautiful golf afternoon, the client made a racist AND sexist joke. My friend said she was stunned. Dumbfounded. This was her client. A financially lucrative client at that. She felt stuck in a very awkward position.
The good news was that her colleague stepped right up and said, “Hey, that’s not funny. I’m not laughing”.

Later my friend said she thanked the colleague for speaking up. The colleague responded, “At this point in my career, I don’t care if we lose a client”.

There it is.

The fear of speaking up because of potential repercussions. Losing a friend. Losing a client. Losing a job.

The NEW Swear Jar

This got me thinking about the swear jar. You know what I mean, the jar that you contribute money to if you swear. The objective is to raise awareness around the swearing and to have a cost to participating in the less-than-desirable swearing behavior.

We need to raise awareness to our own prejudices and biases and we need to have a cost for participating in racist, sexist, ageist and all other prejudicial behaviors.

To raise the awareness of how this happens in both subtle and, as in the joke by the client, not so subtle ways.

To hold ourselves and other accountable for this behavior.

To give ourselves permission to hold a higher standard.

To change thoughts and behaviors.

To build our boldness muscles so we are not struck dumbfounded.

To be empowered by the leadership in our organizations to SPEAK UP!

Change Your Office Culture With The Gylany Chalice

I have created the Gylany Chalice, my version of a swear jar, to tackle bias, stereotyping and prejudices of all shapes and sizes.
This word, gylany (pronounced GUY-LAN-EE), comes from a book I am reading called The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler.

In her book, Riane says:
“To describe the real alternative to a system based on the ranking of half of humanity over the other, I propose the new term gylany.  Gy derives from the Greek root word gyne, or “woman.”  An derives from andros, or “man.”  The letter l between the two has a double meaning.  In English, it stands for the linking of both halves of humanity, rather than, as in androcracy, their ranking.  In Greek, it derives from the verb lyein or lyo, which in turn has a double meaning:  to solve or resolve (as in analysis) and to dissolve or set free (as in catalysis).  In this sense, the letter l stands for the resolution of our problems through the freeing of both halves of humanity from the stultifying and distorting rigidity of roles imposed by the domination hierarchies inherent in androcratic systems.”
The Gylany Chalice is the place where we begin to free ourselves from distorted thinking that keeps a ranking mindset in place and stops all of us, male and female, from living the lives we are meant to be living in peace, love and freedom.

The Chalice challenges us to have a raised awareness of our own biases, stereotypes and prejudices and, once we are aware, to change our behaviors as well. Having to put up some of your own green is very helpful when trying to encourage a new behavior.


  • Create a Gylany Chalice for your office.  If you want to use our label, you can download a pdf.   Here is our Gylany Chalice:
  • Let everyone know about the chalice and how it represents your office taking a stand against racism, sexism, ageism etc.
  • If you or someone else thinks a prejudicial thought BUT does not speak it out loud you must “Pay” the chalice a quarter.   
  • Every time someone says or does something that is racist, sexist, ageist, biased, stereotypical or prejudicial in any way and catches themselves then they “pay” the chalice one dollar
  • If anyone does something that is racist, sexist, ageist, biased, stereotypical or prejudicial in any way and IS NOT EVEN AWARE that it is a problem then they must pay one dollar to the chalice AND a quarter to the person who calls them out.  
  • Once your chalice is full make a donation to a cause that is fighting against racism, sexism, ageism, bias, stereotyping or acting prejudicial or to causes that are fighting for equality for all.
Some possible places include:
The United Nations Girl Up Initiative 
Million Women Mentors
National Girls Collaborative
Women For Women International
Girls Who Code
Women Tech Founders
American Association of University Women (AAUW)

Choose from this list or find one that speaks to you and your path to making the world kind.
Commit yourself to changing.  Let's discover how together.  I'm offering a free 30-minute Discovery Session.

Reach out to me at
630/260-7821 or

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