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Supporting People By Making Their Lives Harder. Rad.

, , , , , | Working | September 28, 2021

The owner of my company is… eccentric. He is incredibly kind and caring, but sometimes he is not the most practical thinker. He inherited the company and so doesn’t know what he’s doing, but he is largely smart enough to leave the day-to-day running to the vice president and things generally run smoothly.

During the Black Lives Matter protests, the owner decides to launch a diversity initiative. It’s a great idea, but the implementation has some hiccups. An important factor is that my town is almost entirely white and, as such, there is currently only one African American employee in our office, [Coworker #1]. He is a twenty-two-year-old intern fresh out of school and so far has been doing well at his job. As part of the initiative, the owner promotes him from intern to Senior Manager after the previous Senior Manager retires, jumping him about six rungs up the ladder and putting him just behind the Vice President.

The following conversations all happen within the first two days.

Client #1: “Where is the documentation that was supposed to go with this order?”

Coworker #1: “I don’t know. I will try to find that.”

Client #1: “I don’t have time to wait for that. We’ve been ordering from your company for years and you’ve never missed the documents!”

Coworker #1: “I apologize. I’ll do what I can.”

Coworker #2: “I need you to approve this PTO; my mom just got put in the hospital.”

Coworker #1: “Of course, of course… How do I do that?”

Coworker #2: “I don’t know how that works. Maybe ask [Vice President]?”

Coworker #3: “Hey, there are some guys here saying they need to be paid for work from five months ago.”

Coworker #1: “Can I do that? Should I do that? What did they say they did?”

These and several other conversations in the same vein happen almost continuously, with everyone in the office doing their best to help out, but we are all also busy with our own jobs. [Coworker #1] is a ball of nerves and several times has gone to either the vice president or the owner and asked for his old job back. While the vice president is sympathetic, the owner just keeps saying, “Diversity is our strength,” and won’t cut the guy a break.

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