The diversity officer at Uber has been suspended following backlash stemming from a workshop she conducted called “Don’t call me Karen.”
The ride-sharing company confirmed to the New York Times that it suspended Bo Young Lee after outrage from Black and Hispanic employees over the session intended to explore the experience of White women.
Many took to company Slack channels to describe the sessions as being insensitive to people of color and that the workshop trivialized racism, according to CBS News.
Karen is a derogatory term used to describe White women who are racist and feel entitled.
The Business Insider reports Lee defended the session by telling employees at an all-hands company meeting that “being pushed out of your own strategic ignorance is the right thing to do.”
Lee has worked at the company since 2018. She was brought in by chief executive Dara Khosrowshah in an effort to turn around a company culture following the departure of founder Travis Kalanick.
He left the company under intense criticism of widespread discrimination and sexual harassment at Uber.
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Uber missed a huge opportunity for growth. It is insightful to offer opportunities to hear from all different perspectives. You don’t have to agree with everyone’s perspective. But it is a chance to better understand why someone has that perspective and they learn yours. Refusing those opportunities keeps everyone in their own bucket of thought.
A former white supremacist changed when he finally had deep and often uncomfortable conversations with people in those categories he “hated”. They listened to each other with respect even when they greatly disagreed. Over those conversations, they changed their perspective of him just as he changed his of them. But if they just labeled him a racist and refused to acknowledge him or his perspective, then nothing would have changed and he would have continued recruiting other similarly-rejected people into his cause. When people are forced into the same bucket, it is easier for them to find each other and bond over it.