A DEI executive at Uber decided to center white women’s feelings and was rightfully reprimanded for it. On Sunday, an Uber spokesperson told The New York Times that Bo Young Lee—the ridesharing app’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer—is “currently on a leave of absence.”
Over the last several weeks, Lee hosted events as part of the company’s “Moving Forward” series entitled “Don’t Call Me Karen.” The goal, according to its description, was to have an “open and honest conversation about race.” The talks featured white speakers and were about “diving into the spectrum of the American white woman’s experience” as well as “the ‘Karen’ persona.”
The company’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, and its chief people officer, Nikki Krishnamurthy, emailed employees addressing their concerns about Lee’s conversations. “We have heard that many of you are in pain and upset by yesterday’s Moving Forward session,” they said in a message, according to the Times.
“While it was meant to be a dialogue, it’s obvious that those who attended did not feel heard.” After Lee’s first event, a Black woman who works at Uber asked how the company would stop “tone-deaf, offensive, and triggering conversations” from being part of its diversity agenda, the Times reported.
Lee replied that the “Moving Forward” series was meant to make people uncomfortable. “Sometimes being pushed out of your own strategic ignorance is the right thing to do,” Lee allegedly stated. According to Uber’s website, Lee has led the company’s DEI initiatives since 2018.
“Bo partners with senior leadership, including CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, to build a work culture where radically diverse and inclusive teams drive innovation, accelerate growth, and build a work culture and systems where all employees have the opportunity to excel and grow to their highest potential,” the site states.