A diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) leader at Uber has been reprimanded after hosting an event for white women who are offended by the term “Karen.”
According to Business Insider, employees at the ride-sharing company expressed their disdain for efforts to highlight the “spectrum of the American white woman’s experience.”
The Events In Question
As a result, Uber’s Chief Diversity Equity and Inclusion Officer Bo Young Lee is on a leave of absence after hosting events labeled “Don’t Call Me Karen.”
The events were part of a company-wide initiative dubbed “Moving Forward,” which featured discussions about race and the experiences of various underrepresented groups brought to the forefront after the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.
The Company's Response
In an email sent to a few Uber employees, Chief People Officer Nikki Krishnamurthy, informed people that Lee was told “to step back and take a leave of absence while we determine next steps.”
“We have heard that many of you are in pain and upset by yesterday’s Moving Forward session,” read the email, viewed by The New York Times. “While it was meant to be a dialogue, it’s obvious that those who attended did not feel heard.”
What Is A "Karen?"
Over the past few years, the term “Karen” has become a name used for white women who operate from a place of entitlement and often complain or report Black people to authorities and other people in positions of high power for merely existing.
The employees who voiced their concern felt that the events led by Young minimized the racism and harm inflicted on Black people by focusing on how “Karen” was a hurtful word, rather than the effect their actions have had on people.
After the first event was held at the company, a Black woman posed the following question during an Uber all-hands meeting: How would the company prevent “tone-deaf, offensive and triggering conversations” from becoming a part of its diversity initiatives?
“Sometimes being pushed out of your own strategic ignorance is the right thing to do,” said Lee, at the time, per notes taken by another employee attending the event, Fortune reports.
For now, the company has confirmed that Lee has been placed on a leave of absence, according to MarketWatch.