Uber placed its head of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) on a leave of absence after employees complained about two events titled “Don’t Call Me Karen,” which focused on white women’s experiences, according to The New York Times.
Bo Young Lee, Uber’s head of diversity, is on leave pending “next steps” from her employer after two sessions about the experiences of American white women sparked outrage among employees, according to the NYT. The events, which were part of a series of company racial discussions which began in 2020, drew criticism in company Slack channels for black and Hispanic employees. (RELATED: ‘Citi Bike Karen’ At Center Of Confrontation With Black Teens Paid For Bike, Lawyer Says)
After the first “Don’t Call Me Karen” discussion in April, a black woman asked how to avoid “tone-deaf, offensive and triggering conversations” from occurring in diversity initiatives at a company meeting, according to the NYT. Lee responded that the point of the series was to prompt uncomfortable conversations and to usher employees out of their “strategic ignorance,” and she later hosted a second “Don’t Call Me Karen” session to revisit the subject, after which black and Hispanic employees said they felt lectured.
“I felt like I was being scolded for the entirety of that meeting,” one employee wrote, according to the NYT. “I think when people are called Karens it’s implied that this is someone that has little empathy to others or is bothered by minorities others that don’t look like them. Like why can’t bad behavior not be called out?”
By referring to “Karen” as a hurtful term, Uber’s DEI staff were minimizing racism perpetrated by white people, employees complained, according to the NYT.
“We have heard that many of you are in pain and upset by yesterday’s Moving Forward session,” the company said in an email to employees. “While it was meant to be a dialogue, it’s obvious that those who attended did not feel heard.”
Uber did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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