‘Karen’ has Uber’s diversity chief suspended — RT World News
Uber has furloughed its head of diversity, equity and inclusion, Bo Young Lee, the ride-sharing company confirmed to The New York Times after the outlet went public with internal messages from employees criticizing the Korean-American executive.
“I can confirm that Bo is currently on leave of absence,” Uber spokesman Noah Edwardsen said in a statement Sunday.
According to the Times, Bo was suspended after a backlash over a staff meeting dubbed “Don’t Call Me Karen” focused on exploring “The White American Woman’s Experience.” The session took place sometime last month, as part of Uber “To advance” diversity initiative.
The outlet quoted several messages from the “Black at Uber” And “Los Ubers” channels of the corporate messaging program Slack, where black and Latino employees have complained of feeling “scolded” and how to describe the term “Karene” also hurtful minimized racism and “the harm white people can inflict on people of color.”
An employee wrote that the term implies “that he is someone who has little empathy for others or who is embarrassed by minorities other (sic) who do not look like them.”
At a town hall meeting last Wednesday, a black employee asked Bo what could be done to exclude “deaf, offensive and triggering conversations” diversity sessions. The DEI executive responded saying that “Sometimes being pushed out of your own strategic ignorance is the right thing to do,” according to an employee’s notes cited by the Times.
On Thursday, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and human resources director Nikki Krishnamurthy sent an email saying they had asked Bo, who had worked for the company since 2018, “to step back and take some time off while we figure out the next steps.”
“We heard that many of you were hurting and upset from yesterday’s Breaking Through session,” says the email. “Although it was supposed to be a dialogue, it is obvious that those who attended did not feel heard.”
The Times did not say whether the employees involved in the diversity drama were drivers or staff at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, California. The headquarters employs about 3,500 of Uber’s total 33,000 people, while the 3.9 million drivers worldwide are considered part-time independent contractors.
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