Uber Suspends Diversity Chief Over Diversity Event

Bo Young Lee goes on leave after 'Don't Call Me Karen' forum
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2023 7:30 AM CDT
Uber Suspends Diversity Chief Over Diversity Event
The logo for Uber appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Uber has suspended one of its execs who was accused of being insensitive to diversity issues. The odd thing is that the exec had been in charge of making sure the company was sensitive to diversity issues. The New York Times reports that Bo Young Lee, the company's head of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), is now on a leave of absence amid the controversy. It seems that Lee moderated an event she called "Moving Forward: Don't Call Me Karen" that was intended to be an exploration of thorny race issues. ("Karen," of course, refers to the slang name that has been bestowed upon entitled white women who complain about minorities in public, much to the chagrin of actual Karens.)

The problem is that minorities who attended the meeting felt it was mostly a defense of white women and minimized their own concerns. “It was more of a lecture—I felt like I was being scolded for the entirety of that meeting,” one employee wrote in a Slack message, part of an exchange obtained and posted to Twitter by Richard Hanania, president of the conservative Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology, per Quartz. Lee then hosted a follow-up meeting, and when a Black employee called the first meeting "tone deaf" and "offensive," Lee replied, "Sometimes being pushed out of your own strategic ignorance is the right thing to do."

That tone further inflamed the issue, and Uber suspended Lee. “We have heard that many of you are in pain and upset by yesterday’s Moving Forward session,” reads a company email to employees obtained by the Times. “While it was meant to be a dialogue, it’s obvious that those who attended did not feel heard.” Lee has been with Uber since 2018, and she was brought in to fix what USA Today called at the time a "troubled culture" that had developed under former CEO Travis Kalanick. (More Uber stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.