Employees at Uber did not feel included but rather offended by "tone-deaf, offensive and triggering" remarks made by diversity and inclusion officer Bo Young Lee. After a workshop intending to explain the struggles of middle-aged white women to the rest of their diverse workforce failed, Lee doubled down and took a baffling second run at it.
Uber's CEO and the company Chief People Officer teamed up to determine this was inappropriate, placed Lee on leave, and apologized to their employees.
Uber has put its chief diversity and inclusion officer on leave after she moderated a pair of "Don't Call Me Karen" events that workers at the San Francisco-based firm said were insensitive to people of color, according to a report from the New York Times.
Lee billed the first event, in April, as a time to focus on "the 'Karen' persona" and hear from white women who work at Uber, the report said. "Karen" is a pejorative often used to refer to white women who feel the need to police people of color and/or demand special treatment in everyday encounters. The invitation reportedly said the event would host an "open and honest conversation about race" and be a time to dig into "the spectrum of the American white woman's experience." It was reportedly part of Uber's "Moving Forward" series, a string of discussions about race that began at the company after 2020's Black Lives Matter protests.
But workers, according to the Times' report, said in Slack messages that the conversation felt like a lecture about white women's struggles and minimized the reasons that people find "Karen" behavior objectionable in the first place.