Amélie Lamont, a former staffer at website-hosting startup Squarespace, writes that she often found herself disregarded and disrespected by her colleagues. One comment in particular, though, set her reeling — and came to exemplify her experiences there.
We continued taking turns going around the table, giving updates. When we got to me, Kelly asked, "Amélie, where's Amélie?"
Confused, I looked at her–I was sitting right across from her. I looked at her and said, "I'm right here."
She stared at me for a few seconds and remarked, "Oh. I didn't see you. You blended in. You're so black, you blend into the chair." I didn't believe what I was hearing and I didn't know what to do. I looked at my arm, compared it to the chair in front of her.
"Nope, my arm is brown and the chair is black," I quipped awkwardly.
She replied, "No. They're the same color."
The room was silent.
"Kelly" is a pseudonym for Squarespace's then-Vice President of Customer Care. Lamont reports that, when she complained about it to HR, it was suggested she might be too sensitive. Lamont reports eventually being fired over an unrelated incident, but accepting a severance package that she didn't realize would prevent her from pursuing the company in court.
Squarespace's Seine Kim offered a short statement when I asked them about Lamont's account.
While it is our policy not to comment on HR issues involving current or former employees, we can confirm that Squarespace has long-standing policies against harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. Our workplace integrity is of the utmost importance and we take any such allegations very seriously. We work tirelessly to maintain an open and safe work environment here at Squarespace.