(Molly Bruns, Headline USA) Ride-share giant Uber suspended its chief officer for diversity, equity and inclusion, Bo Young Lee, after she hosted an event for employees that dove “into the spectrum of the American white woman’s experience.”
The inaugural “Don’t Call Me Karen” meeting took place in April, followed by a second session in May.
Many Uber employees called the discussions “triggering,” despite Lee’s intent to encourage “open and honest conversation about race.”
The term “Karen” is used against white women who publicly engage in racist microaggressions or acts of self-entitlement, such as addressing poor service from a minority employee by asking to speak with the manager.
However, “racism” is such an ill-defined term that women can earn the “Karen” title for doing pretty much anything.
According to the Post Millennial, several employees, including some from a group called “Black at Uber,” called the session “tone-deaf, offensive and triggering.”
Higher ups at Uber swiftly apologized to the staff and announced that they put Lee on leave while they “determine next steps.”
“We have heard that many of you are in pain and upset by yesterday’s Moving Forward session,” said the email from chief people officer Nikki Krishnamurthy and chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi. “While it was meant to be a dialogue, it’s obvious that those who attended did not feel heard.”
Employees made several comments about the meeting on Slack, saying they didn’t “even understand the premise of the meeting.”
“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,” said one employee. “Like why can’t bad behavior not be called out?”
Uber employees praised the decision to put Lee on leave. Several of them claimed that Krishnamurthy and Khosrowshahi earned “a pay raise and/or time off for all this unpaid emotional labor.”
Before her forced leave, Lee managed to respond to the criticism and defended herself, saying “sometimes being pushed out of your own strategic ignorance is the right thing to do.”
Lee started as chief diversity officer for Uber in 2018.