For the life of me, I don’t understand why companies think that it is their responsibility to use the workplace to correct society’s ills. They should certainly keep bigotry and hate out of the workplace (we call that “professionalism”), but why does Uber and other companies feel like they need to use their time and resources to address societal or cultural issues? Not only is it not their job, it is fraught with professional and market peril – like we see in this story.
Uber’s diversity chief is on leave from the company after criticism from some employees related to an internal panel called “Don’t Call Me Karen.”
Bo Young Lee, Uber’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, is on a leave of absence, Noah Edwardsen, an Uber spokesperson, confirmed to CNN on Monday.
Lee oversaw a series of sessions called “Moving Forward” at Uber that focused on issues around race, gender identity and class. One of the more recent sessions was titled, “Don’t Call Me Karen,” and focused on the experiences of a handful of women leaders, a person familiar with the matter told CNN. “Karen” is a slang term that usually refers to a middle-aged white woman with a strong sense of entitlement, often at the expense of people of color.
According to the New York Times, which was first to report the news, Black and Hispanic workers at Uber first felt that organizers of the event were focusing more on the harms caused by using the moniker “Karen” than the harms white people can inflict on people of color.
In a follow-up listening session, the Times reported, some employees felt their concerns weren’t being heard and that instead of a chance to provide feedback or have a dialogue, they were lectured by Lee about their response to the initial “Don’t Call Me Karen” event.