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Uber’s Chief Of Diversity Suspended After Holding Events Centering White Women Leave a comment


Bo Young Lee, chief diversity and inclusion officer of Uber Technologies Inc. | Kanishka Sonthalia/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Uber’s head of diversity efforts, Bo Young Lee, was asked “to step back” and take a leave of absence last Thursday in the wake of two “Don’t Call Me Karen” employee sessions as a part of Uber’s “Moving Forward” discussions on race and minority experiences.

One event occurred in April, with the second being held last week, and both were advertised as “diving into the spectrum of the American white woman’s experience from some of our female colleagues, particularly how they navigate around the ‘Karen’ persona.”

Many employees of color in attendance felt these events, which “were designed to give white women who work at Uber the chance to share their perspectives” as being “insensitive towards people of color.”

Article continues after video.

After the first event, a Black female employee asked how Uber was working to stop “tone-deaf, offensive and triggering conversations” at an all-hands meeting. In response, Lee said “Sometimes being pushed out of your own strategic ignorance is the right thing to do,” which provoked even more employee complaints.

After the second event, Lee was eviscerated on Slack group chats for Black and Hispanic employees, with many fuming over their perceived inability to engage in an open and honest dialogue or even provide feedback. Someone wrote, “I felt like I was being scolded for the entirety of that meeting.”

Another employee was confused as to why the term should not used, writing to the group “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. Like why can’t bad behavior not be called out?”

Chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi and chief people officer Nikki Krishnamurthy asked Bo Young Lee to step back as they determine next steps and Uber released a statement confirming Lee’s leave of absence.

Employees have expressed approval of the decision.

After learning the news about Lee’s leave of absence, one employee added that Uber executives “have heard us, they know we are hurting, and they want to understand what all happened too.”

Another expressed gratitude to her co-workers who escalated this situation, writing, “Just want to say a huge, huge thank you to the amazing ERG leaders, especially Black@ who escalated Bo’s behavior to Dara and made sure that our outrage didn’t go unheard….You deserve a pay raise and/or time off for all this unpaid emotional labor.”

Lee has been in this role as Chief Diversity Equity and Inclusion Officer at Uber since 2018, who beforehand held similar roles at Marsh McLennan and other reputable companies.


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