should I ask my employer to take down a Blue Lives Matter flag?

A reader writes:

I am a C-level employee at a multi-state company that has more than 50 but fewer than 100 employees. Recently, we started a social media campaign to show all the amazing things our coworkers do outside of the office — side businesses, hobbies, etc.

One of our employees makes beautiful, wood-crafted American flags and donates them to local schools and police departments for their fundraising. He makes a version of the “Blues Live Matter” flag, which was featured on one of our posts as a donation to a local police department. I didn’t have a problem with the flag in that context, but the president of our company saw the post and requested a Blue Lives Matter flag of his own, which now hangs proudly in his office. This was also promoted on social media.

This placement and promotion make me incredibly uncomfortable. As a whole, our organization has a diversity problem. With one or two exceptions, everyone is white, cis, and straight. In the past few years, we’ve changed up our management team, which is now predominantly men, when it was previously all women. We have fired all but one of our black employees in the years I’ve been here. Our remaining management team leans heavily conservative and they are not shy about expressing that.

When I have brought up issues of diversity and inclusion in the past, I have been told that our clients are overwhelmingly white and conservative, and we need to make them comfortable (I don’t think that assessment is strictly true, for what it’s worth).

I admittedly lean left on most issues, but my concern has less to do with that and more to do with the fact that I think we are blindly walking into some dangerous territory. While I don’t have proof that we actively discriminate in the hiring and promotion process, our track record is questionable at best.

When I can contribute, I have tried to show diversity in our work because I think it’s the right thing to do and it makes us more appealing to a broader section of clients and potential employees. I think this flag harms that effort.

I don’t want to offend people with family members who are on the police force or active military, of which there are a few in the office. I understand it’s a dangerous job but I don’t think those people realize this flag and movement are a direct response to Black Lives Matter, and that they are advocating for police and active military to be considered a protected class like race, gender, etc.

I am a senior member of this organization and have a strong track record. But I’ve also recently been stripped of my management responsibilities in a reorganization.

I want to do the right thing and advocate for the people who don’t have the standing to do so. But I also want to pay my rent next month. Alison, can I ask them to take this flag down? Is that appropriate? And how should I go about it?

You can ask — but I strongly suspect it won’t get you anywhere.

In my experience, people who promote Blue Lives Matter either (a) genuinely don’t understand that it was created explicitly as a counter to Black Lives Matter (which arose to counter police killings of unarmed black people) and is seen by many people as racist pushback against that movement, or at least as willful blindness to racist policing, or (b) don’t care.

You can certainly explain that that flag carries a message your company might be unaware of and that many people will take it as a sign that this isn’t a company they’d be comfortable working with or want to give their business to. You can point out that it will alienate black employees and candidates, and non-black people who care about fighting racism. You can point out the organization already has a diversity problem, and this will reinforce and worsen it.

It’s possible you could get some traction with that argument. You’re a C-level employee so you have some standing and some influence.

But you’re in an organization that’s somehow (somehow) managed to end up nearly 100% white. Your management team is all men and apparently fine with that. Your management team “leans heavily conservative and they are not shy about expressing that.” When you’ve brought up racial equity in the past, you’ve been told it’s more important to make white clients comfortable.

That alone would make me think your chances of success are slim, but the recent changes in your job don’t help matters. It’s possible that wasn’t a demotion … but it’s also possible that it leaves you with less power and less standing, and that the fact that it happened might already speak to a lower regard for your input (and maybe even that you too are on your way out). You’d have a better sense of that than I can, though.

I think you should speak up anyway because pointing out “hey, we have a prominently displayed symbol that many people read as racist and upsetting” is important — on both a human level and a business one. And unless there’s more going on here, I doubt pointing that out (especially framed as “this will make it harder for us to hire people we want and to bring in a broader client base”) will jeopardize your job.

But I am skeptical that they’ll do anything about it, and assuming that’s the case, I’d take this as a nudge to figure out if this is the right culture for you to stay in.

{ 575 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Commenting rules for this one: Please, no comments arguing that you don’t think Blue Lives Matters is racist, since it’s indisputable that many people do see it as racist (even if you don’t) and that’s at the crux of the question being asked. Please instead stay focused on advice to the letter writer.

  2. IT Guy*

    I always imagined at the C-level stage of someone’s career is when you have the most clout to speak your mind. If you’re not able to do that at this company, then maybe it’s time to move one where you can.

    1. Smithy*

      This feels like the kindest response I can imagine.

      I would also note that the specific issue noted serves as a visual example of far greater structural issues. If there’s been no ability by the OP to address the structural issues, the resolution of this specific situation seems relatively small.

      1. Cobol*

        Depends on the company (maybe the person too). I report to a C-Suite, who has been at the company longer than anybody ever has and she will categorically not even question anything our CEO tells her. I have to believe she knows the right way to play the game at our company

    2. EPLawyer*

      They have already stripped you of managerial responsbility in a “re-organization” after you brought up issues of diversity. The writing is on the wall with this company. And I don’t just mean the flag. You are being eased out for not being a “culture fit.” They’ve made it clear, they want white, cis males. They want white cis male clients or at best women who think white cis males should be dominant.

      Nothing says you can’t look for a new job while still paying your bills with this one. Even if you don’t say something on this particular problem, it’s only a matter of time before you need a new job.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yup. You’ve already been stripped of authority – you’re round #2 on the chopping block, after they adjust from having gotten rid of all the POC, female managers, and any other miscellaneous minorities. Brush up the old resume.

      2. Amethystmoon*

        Ugh, I agree. It appears as if this company is retaliating for talking about diversity, at least as much as they can without a person having to make a big deal in HR or something. If I were OP, I would be looking for a company with different values.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Agreed. And even if OP is a white cis male, they want white cis men who do not worry or care about diversity.

      4. Abogado Avocado*

        Agreed.

        Also, OP, I don’t know that this will be a comfort, but I strongly suspect that non-white, non-cis-gendered employment candidates already know your employer isn’t really interested in diversity. In addition to management’s disinterest, these candidates already can tell from the composition of the c-suite. The candidates don’t need to see a “Blue Lives Matter” flag on the boss’ wall to know they’re not welcome.

        If I knew you personally, OP, and not through this faceless forum, I’d help you get your CV on the street, advise you of terrific job openings and support you as, on your way to your new job, you kindly and constructively advise these folks of your concerns. They will either hear you or they won’t, but you’ll be protected in case they get their backs up.

        1. winter*

          Absolutely this. If I check out a company and their C suite is comprised of white men only, I’m drawing my own conclusions. Discovering the flag is only the cherry on top of the discrimination sundae in that case.

      5. Artemesia*

        Yup. This company is run by racists and misogynists who have just demoted you. I would at this point keep my head down and decide if I want to ride it out here (close to retirement?) or find a new job. You have already raised the issue and been told they don’t care. prudence at this point suggests making yourself a low target and focusing on the work.

      6. Donkey Hotey*

        Yes. I’d missed the “stripped of management responsibilities” in the first read.
        With this in the mix, count me in the “time to not only update your resume but start looking” camp.

    3. Zip Silver*

      Personally I wouldn’t pick the CEOs office decor as my hill to die on. Depending on where in the country OP, it’s a relatively common bumper sticker, and relatively common sentiment.

      If OP’s concerned about diversity, then she ought to make a push during hiring processes. Being C-level gives her leverage on hiring panels, and naturally in her own department, and that’s where I’d burn my political capital. I have a feeling that the flag conversation won’t go very far.

      1. Liane*

        Uh, it reads that (1) OP has already been stripped of a lot of their C Suite Influence & (2) has tried pushing on hiring processes in vain.
        So, like several others here, I’d advise OP to stop trying to salvage this bunch and put that time & energy into looking for a new job.

        1. Zip Silver*

          Exactly, there’s no reason to burn more capital on the flag. Getting totally sidelined means it’s time to start job searching, but raising a stick about the flag wouldn’t improve the situation.

          1. Veronica*

            Also mentioning the flag could enable them.
            If they are pretending they’re not racist, telling them how the flag is perceived could help them hide their racism. They might take it down not because they care about black lives, but so they can better fool the public that they’re not racist.

            1. Triumphant Fox*

              They seem to really not care about this, though, or they wouldn’t have gotten rid of all their non-white, non-male executives.

            2. AnnaBananna*

              Thank you! The only thought I had screaming in my head was ‘don’t tell them! Right now it’s doing outsiders a huge service!’ What’s interesting though is how the C-suite is deciding for their white clients whether they’re comfortable with non-whites, likely without any atual feedback from the white clients. I really wish we knew what field this is and why they’re so certain.

              OP, stop trying to bedazzle the turd that is your current company. It’s still a turd and quite happily turd-like, it appears. Take your bedazzling skills and go where it can truly be appreciated.

              Also – update us when you land at your new company, pretty please!! :)

              1. Gazebo Slayer*

                Sadly, racist white people tend to assume all white people think the way they do but just are more hypocritical about it or hide it better.

                1. Gatomon*

                  I’m a male POC with a very “white” name who now interacts primarily over the phone. I admit that I’ve made it difficult to “find” me on the internet to determine my race, but it’s astounding the garbage people let leak out on the phone just on the assumption that I’m white and sympathetic to their cause.

                  The only upside is not getting asked “where I’m from” multiple times per week, as if a POC couldn’t possibly be American after 150 years of traceable American ancestry.

      2. Le Sigh*

        The CEO is the head and face of the company. And as said face, the CEO sets the tone for the office. And his office decor (which isn’t at his house or personal space–it’s on company property and visible to staffers and clients) can send quite a few messages–none of them good in this case. If I saw that flag during an interview, I’d nope the hell out of there, even if I wasn’t aware of the other issues.

        But combined with everything else OP included–and the fact that they’ve been stripped of any real power in the company–I think the OP would be wise to look for another job. The office decor is just a flaming beacon warning people of the much bigger problems elsewhere in this company.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Yup. I’m a white femme and if I went in to interview somewhere, the CEO’s office having a blue lives flag would be an immediate “get out, do not pass go, do not collect a single dime from this company run by a racist asshole” sign.

          Yikes on bikes, OP. Adding my voice to the chorus of “time to start looking elsewhere.” They’ve made their intentions extremely clear.

          1. Elizabeth Rochelle Dickson*

            This. I’d grow extra legs to get out of there faster. This company screams racist, misogynist assholes just dying to be 100% whites-only.
            They don’t care in the slightest about the undertones of that flag — in fact, I suspect that they endorse them. I would get out NOW, if I were the OP; this person seems decent, and doesn’t need to be poisoned by the culture. He isn’t a culture fit, thank goodness.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It sounds like OP has already done those things, and the result has been no change in policies and demotion. The “office decor” is a symbol of a larger cancer in the organization, and it sounds like they’re actively removing anyone who could help them find the cure. I’m not sure it makes sense to continue to burn political capital at an organization that has no desire to change.

        But even if that was not the situation and OP worked at a moderately aware and thoughtful employer, the CEO’s office decor is and should be up for debate. By analogy, when a certain chief judge of the Ninth Circuit had stacks and stacks of Playboys in his office, it was up for debate.

        1. Pomona Sprout*

          “I’m not sure it makes sense to continue to burn political capital at an organization that has no desire to change.”

          This. SFM.

      4. Elitist Semicolon*

        Leveraging influence via hiring committees/their own team won’t help if a candidate or new hire goes to meet the CEO and sees the flag.

      5. SeriousNope*

        “Office decor” kinda like a white hood & robe is just another expression of business casual.

    4. just trying to help*

      It certainly sounds like the work atmosphere has changed from when the LW joined the organization. Time to update the resume and start looking around.

        1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

          Idk, there are some extremely privileged people I’ve come across who would give literally anyone who needed it the shirt off their back, but whose privilege manifests itself in trusting institutions and not paying attention to the news or politics. So they’re maybe tangentially aware that BLM is a thing, but thinks it’s an overreaction because they can’t really believe that there would be structural problems in the police. So when they see a Blue Lives Matter thing, they’re like “ah, my friendly neighborhood officer! like and share!”

          It’s a really hard thing for me to see, because I know these people wouldn’t want to make POC uncomfortable if they realized that’s what they’re doing, but the white supremacy that they’ve been born into and haven’t thought about is blinding.

          1. san junipero*

            Definitely. Not that there aren’t a hell of a lot of malicious Blue Lives Matter people, but there are also a lot of ignorant ones. I have cousins who claim to support BOTH, because they’re ‘not racist, but cops are important’ or something like that.

    5. Female C-Level*

      This is actually something I’ve struggled with a lot recently. Finding that balance between “keep your mouth shut so that you can actually rise to a level where you have the opportunity to change” and “will it ever be my turn to be heard?”

      As a female C-level employee who has seen a lot of other female C-level employees before me fall into the trap of never realizing now is actually (finally) time… or just plain get in the habit of biding one’s time… its tough. After all, you can always make the argument that *just one more promotion* and you’ll be in an even better position to negotiate.

  3. Cucumberzucchini*

    How did so much of management change from being mostly women to mostly men? Was it purposeful? Do you have happen to be a woman? You mention you were recently stripped of your managerial duties in a reorg. From an outside perspective with just the info you’ve presented it seems these were deliberate changes.

    1. CmdrShepard4ever*

      Oh I’m sure the change from female to male leadership wasn’t purposeful at all, they just wanted to hire the “most super extremely qualified candidates” they could find and it “just” happened to be men. /s

      But I will actually advise OP to not say anything about the flag. Especially given what OP has said about the leadership and the comment about needing white staff to make clients feel comfortable, I think the blue lives matter flag is a helpful warning signal for candidates to self select out of the applicant pool for this company. Would it be beneficial for the company to be more diverse absolutely, but I feel that might only happen at the cost of the diverse employees benefit.

      1. CynicallySweet*

        This. I would argue that making it a point would be a waste of capital (based on other things said). But I don’t think the value of being able to go onto the company’s website and self-select out after seeing that is necessarily a bad thing. Especially in light of what else we’ve been told about the company

      2. The Rules are Made Up*

        Agreed. Like I think it’s great to want to make your company more diverse but…… Speaking for myself as a Black woman, I am perfectly fine being excluded from such an organization. Sounds like microagression and internal racism city. Taking that flag down probably isn’t going to fix all of the other issues that would make a non-white male person avoid that place like the plague.

        1. Kendra*

          If anything, letting him leave it up could serve as a kind of warning label in case any visitors or new employees haven’t caught on yet, or are trying to convince themselves that they’re imagining things.

    2. Kate R*

      I was wondering this too. Replacing all the women with men and firing all but one of the black employees seems more deliberate than just not actively working to increase the diversity of your applicant pool. Even if they had “legitimate reasons” for those changes, the optics are not great. I hope that OP is already planning an exit strategy, but they should start now if they haven’t already.

      1. blackcat*

        Yeah, there’s nothing to do here but leave. They want white men and don’t want people with another viewpoint. Get out before getting fired or being demoted…

    3. MissGirl*

      I totally missed that on the first run through. The flag is just a red herring. Are you in a position to job hunt? I don’t think this company is going in a direction you want to go. Your influence is limited and, apparently, shrinking.

      1. annony*

        Yep. I think the flag is sending exactly the message they want it to send. Asking them to take it down is at best pointless. I would save that for the exit interview.

    4. Shadowbelle*

      I once worked for a company that re-orged for bankruptcy. They “eliminated the position” of Every. Single. Woman. who had had a baby in the last three years. And dumped most of the other positions held by women, too. The majority of men kept their jobs.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        wow. And the bankruptcy probably meant there was no point in a class action lawsuit. Serious douchery.

      2. Argye*

        Yep, I was laid off from a non-profit of just over 50 people when they laid off 20% of the workforce, after working there for 15 years. Somehow everyone they laid off was a) female, b)unmarried, c) in a supervisory position EXCEPT one. The one? Was the only openly gay man working there. Note: There was also a religious component.
        Within six months, they had miraculously hired men to replace most of those positions (mine was an exception – they’ve never rehired mine). The kicker? By the time I’d run the statistics and discovered that the probability of that even was around 1 in 60,000, the 60 day deadline to file a complaint had passed. The CEO got clean away with it. He was eventually allowed to resign, but not over this event.

    5. Jessica Fletcher*

      I agree. OP says they were recently demoted, and that they’ve spoken out about the need for diversity in the past. Seems like the bigoted management is trying to send OP a message.

      OP, I think you should be job hunting.

  4. alldogsarepuppies*

    The idea that they have to be nearly all white staff to make white clients happy is super disturbing to me.

    1. Witchy Human*

      “We need to keep our conservative white clients comfortable” = “it’s better to appease racists than encourage diversity” OR “we use the excuse of conservative white clients to excuse our own preference for white employees.”

      Get out of there.

      1. pope suburban*

        You got right to the heart of it. OP needs to leave. I find myself questioning if they did not lose their management responsibilities as part of an effort to nudge them out the door; OP has noted that the company is committed to homogeneity, and I wonder if- however unconsciously, even- people higher up are slowly squeezing out people who are different. Time to go and take that excellent track record to people who are compassionate.

        1. the_scientist*

          This. OP, the writing is on the wall for you here, too — I would bet my next paycheque that you were essentially demoted after raising the issue of diversity to the executive team. You’re being pushed out for being a squeaky wheel.

          The lack of diversity at this company isn’t a bug, it’s a feature.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        Your OR is the most likely situation at play here. OP, I think you should spend your energy on a more fruitful endeavor such as job searching and finding a better place to work. You work for a company that’s out and proudly racist and sexist – I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

      3. BenAdminGeek*

        Yeah, as a conservative white dude, if I found out a vendor was hiring white people to make me “more comfortable” I’d be livid. This really feels like “we project our preferences onto our clients.”

        1. Le Sigh*

          +1 Yup. This all feels like a convenient shoulder shrug, a way to hide behind clients for your own behavior. “We’d be so much more diverse, except clients are racist and sexist, what CAN you do? Darn.”

        2. Archie Goodwin*

          Exactly this. I would be as well, and I’m sure there are many others who would be. I suspect there’s more than a little projection at work here.

          Although I’m sure that depends to some degree on the geographic area in question.

        3. Anon For This*

          Oh, this. I’m a classical liberal, white, cis gendered, but would be looking for another company if they were using me to justify their lack of equity, diversity, and inclusion. I don’t tolerate that in my own company and wouldn’t tolerate being the scapegoat for their exclusive tactics.

      4. Lana Kane*

        This is EXACTLY right. Racism is rarely overt; it doesn’t usually wear a white hood. Racism today operates with dog whistles, and this is a classic example of one.

      5. The Rules are Made Up*

        And I also wonder if this might just be a racist assumption and projection on their part. That they are assuming that their white male clients only want to work with white male people which may or may not even be the case. Idek which is worse, if the clients actually want this and her bosses are cool with it or if OP’s job is like “Well of COURSE they only want to be surrounded by other white men, what other option is there?!” when nobody said or implied that and they’re just projecting their racism on everyone else.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Same. That says a lot of very unflattering things about this company’s overall direction and culture.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Agreed. The flag is a problem, but it’s the tip of what sounds like a massive white supremacist iceberg.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          I would be inclined, therefore, to leave it alone.

          The company isn’t going to stop being racist and misogynist. Nothing the OP can say or do will make the company less racist or misogynist. Given that fact, I would think it’s marginally better for their racism to be demonstrated in obvious enough ways that any potential client or job candidate can spot it and nope on out of there, rather than leaving them to find out the hard way, later. And yeah, the composition of the C-suite itself is a clue to that… but there *are* companies which are working toward diversity but haven’t had enough turnover in the high command since they began doing so, which means some people will give them the benefit of the doubt if it’s just that the high management is all white men.

          So having an extra-visible cue on display? Might just be the least-bad of the results available to the OP. Along with, preferably, getting a job at a company that is not comprised mostly of bigots, so the OP does not have to care whether this company sinks itself by misjudging its clientele’s worldview or the difficulty of finding good employees who don’t mind working for assholes.

          1. annony*

            Yep. It’s like when someone has the flu. Sure they could take theraflu and hide the symptoms, but they can still make everyone around them sick and looking less sick means those people might not even know the risk.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Right?

      My white ass isn’t happy ever when I see one of those flags. It sends shivers down my spine and I avoid them. Like I’d avoid someone displaying white power symbols.

      1. Quill*

        Much like a confederate flag, I get reeeeeeaaaally suspicious if there’s a blue lives matter flag on a truck.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yeah, I’m in the very liberal PNW region and they love to fly various hate flags on giant poles on jacked up diesel trucks. Yeah I’m not amused and it’s just as bad as burning a cross on someone’s lawn IMO. It’s an act of intimidation on display.

          1. Quill*

            Anyone who runs around with that on their truck is using their truck for posturing and intimidation, and the BEST you can hope for at that point is unreasonably aggressive driving.

    5. Liane*

      Yes this is what keeps this business out of Alison’s category (a) Don’t Know & dumps them solidly into (b) Don’t Care.

    6. smoke tree*

      This response makes me strongly suspect that they are being intentionally discriminatory in their hiring. The flag may well be intended as a deterrent for non-white and/or anti-racist candidates. Given the overall picture the LW paints of this organization, I wouldn’t give them the benefit of the doubt that they don’t know how they’re coming across. I would get out.

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      +100000.

      That flag is not on their social media by accident. They know what they’re doing.

        1. JSPA*

          Eh, that may look different in different geographic regions. Especially in areas that have had more police being killed than deaths by police shootings, some people sign on the same way they donate to funds for widows and children of officers (or go to the spaghetti dinner to fund new gear for the volunteer fire department). Especially in areas that are rather a monoculture, where there wasn’t / isn’t much awareness of Black Lives Matter, so no reason they’d have thought to wonder about the connection.

          Remember, our news sources and information consumption are becoming just as individual and idiosyncratic as our religious practices, if not more so. There no longer are “things everyone knows.”

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            If it were just the flag on the social media page of an otherwise liberal company, and displayed next to other flags, I might agree with you. But in light of everything else OP’s employer has been doing, they are clearly sending a message and the flag is part of it. “If you don’t look like we do, stay away. We do not want your kind around here.”

    8. Antilles*

      FWIW, I’m 100% sure that’s just an handwavey way to do what they’d already planned to do – not that they polled their clients, not that they had clients tell them that, not even that they got a bunch of client complaints about their staff diversity.
      Just a made-up garbage excuse of “our clients want this” in the same non-specific (and non-verifiable) way that people spout off “everybody knows I’m right” or the old message board classic “the lurkers support me via email”.

      1. Pommette!*

        In this case, I suspect that you’re completely right about the handwave. Bonus: maintaining a homogenous workforce means that the allegation can’t be disproven, since it ensures that the putatively racist and sexist clients won’t ever be seen working with non white, LGBTQ, or female reps! Extra bonus: it also perpetuates and magnifies the racist/sexist social context that made the idea of the clients’ prejudice so believable in the first place!

        That said, I have a lot of friends who work in frontline health and social services. We live in a place with a long history of racism, and that racism is still very much alive, and *regularly* manifests in complaints from clients (about the presence of racialized people, of people wearing religious clothing, of people who have even slight ESL accents), and in people leaving clinics or refusing services… It’s disturbing, but hopefully it’s also useful information for agencies and hospitals. Ideally, they’d be using it to understand the challenges and dangers faced by their staff, and to develop systems and interventions to support and protect staff.

    9. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      This. And when they’re done with the racial and gender minorities, they will start filtering by religion, political alignment, university, sports team and address.
      Yikes.

      1. Veronica*

        With luck they’ll go under before they reach that point.
        It might be fun to watch – “Gee, we don’t understand why our customers are leaving…”
        because many cis whites don’t want to support racist misogynists…

    10. Quill*

      I’m white and grew up in a pretty predominantly white area and I’d still find that creepy AF. Imagine dealing with a large company and having that baseline off-ness compared to your local demographics and finally putting together what’s wrong… especially since it seems that they’re specifically removing women from their hierarchy.

    11. Pommette!*

      Yes!

      I get that organizations sometimes have to grapple with clients’ racism, and that navigating those waters can be complicated. But you know what a good standard to start with might be? Not actively discriminating against the people your clients discriminate against. That’s pretty much the lowest moral bar you can aim for here (and it is low!). If you’re not even meeting that bar… you are and have a serious problem.

    12. Thornus*

      It’s not even a permissible reason under Title VII. From the EEOC’s website: “Title VII also does not permit racially motivated decisions driven by business concerns – for example, concerns about the effect on employee relations, or the negative reaction of clients or customers. Nor may race or color ever be a bona fide occupational qualification under Title VII.” I know there are plenty of other private letters and case decisions holding the same thing.

  5. JokeyJules*

    I don’t see any conversation with higher ups being constructive at all.

    It seems like OP is having a major clash with company culture. I say major because it isn’t like a “everyone stays until 530 but i want to leave at 4” level issue. And it seems like this culture has evolved (talking about reorganizations and certain staff being let go, etc). If I were OP, I’d absolutely be looking for someplace else to work. The trajectory of this companies operations with employees will likely develop some sort of reputation that you wouldn’t want to be associated with for a few reasons. The same reasons you’d like to point out to higher ups that they should remove the flag. This seems like something you’re hesitant about morally and professionally, and I hope you find elsewhere to work.

  6. Detective Amy Santiago*

    OP, my advice would be for you to hang a Black Lives Matter flag, an LGBT rights flag, etc in your own office. While you’re job searching. It sounds like this company is full of bees.

    1. OhNo*

      Probably not a good idea (especially if you need a good reference from this job), but one I would endorse nonetheless. You can make your own stance clear without making a fuss, and see how people react. I suspect it’ll give you more information that encourages you to find work elsewhere.

    2. Blueberry*

      If OP can do so safely I completely agree.
      And, OP, thank you for being someone who cares about this. I’m so sorry your company has evolved in such a horrible manner. All good luck.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Maybe after you get an offer, OP. That would be a lovely way to celebrate your last two weeks.

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I like this idea for OP’s notice period. That way there’s minimal threat to OP’s economic and physical safety, but maximum Angela-Bassett-Burning-a-Car effect.

      1. Veronica*

        Just in case let friends and family know what’s going on at work, with documentation. In case there is violence.

    5. AnotherKate*

      It would feel great, but in my experience people who are SHOCKED, SHOCKED, I tell you! at the notion that Blue Lives Matter could be construed as racist or even political, will blithely insist that you can’t bring your “personal politics” to work in the form of a Black Lives Matter or LGBTQ+ flag. They will not see the irony. They will not concede the equivalence. They will just manage you out even faster than it seems they already are.

      1. TootsNYC*

        because everybody should support the cops, you see, but people don’t need to support black people or gay people–that’s identity politics.

        1. aebhel*

          Yeah, IME people who do this don’t see their own politics as political; they see them as ‘just good sense’ or whatever. It’s everyone who disagrees with them that’s unnecessarily bringing politics into it.

  7. Snarkus Aurelius*

    White person here. All white anything makes me uncomfortable. I don’t fear for my physical safety or anything. I begin to question why wherever or whatever I’m doing has predominantly white people, particularly in the workplace! These no excuse for it.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to get after all white job interview panels, and I work for the government!

    But you know what you should do? Ask, “When you say ‘make the clients comfortable,’ what do you mean? Please be specific.”

    1. Jack Be Nimble*

      “Ask, “When you say ‘make the clients comfortable,’ what do you mean? Please be specific.””

      This is genius. It sounds like this workplace might be beyond saving in this regard, but I think pursuing that line of questioning might lead to at least one person having a realization….or just doubling down on their current stance.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      See, I do fear for my safety in some aspects.

      They tend to be bigoted in more than just what your skin color is. They also are sexist. Religious discrimination [in terms of you better be their form of Christian or else.] They find anyone who opposes their extremes as a threat and will use violence against them [aka race-traitors].

      I grew up having to fear skinheads for this very reason. Being white wasn’t protecting me from them.

      1. Lynca*

        Yep. My maternal grandparents and great-grandparents had stories about what went on after they came out in support of the Civil Rights Movement. Bricks through windows, death threats, attempted arson, etc.

        Once you’re in opposition to them, they don’t care if you’re white.

      2. Quill*

        Yeah, as a queer woman… whiteness is not going to save my bacon. White nationalists are pretty wedded to sexism as well, and that’s just from what they can *see* about me, not what they can find out.

      3. Lovecraft Beauty*

        Yeah, being Jewish in all-white spaces (insert remarks about Jewish racism toward Jews of color) scares me. I’m Ashkenazi, and have definitely had the experience of being white until I’m not.

        1. Oranges*

          The stealth “other”! It’s fun /s.

          I love the “being white until I’m not” that wraps it up in a nutshell. For me it’s being straight until I’m not.

    3. pleaset*

      Good stuff. And as a black person I’ll add that all-white in a company in a small town in Idaho (not dissing Idaho – I’m just saying) makes me a little nervous, but that’s partially a legacy of history.

      All-white in a company in New York City, or LA, or even Minneapolis – that’s way more f’d up. They’re more actually working against being diverse.

    4. SansaStark*

      Great idea. Sometimes just making someone say it out loud at least makes them think a little bit about how they sound. I had a colleague once who was working with a client to set a date for a meeting. The date they chose was Rosh Hashana.

      Colleague: That’s one of the highest holy days of the year in the Jewish calendar. Maybe let’s pick a different date.

      Client: It probably won’t affect that many people. Take a look at the several hundred attendees from last year and count who would be affected.

      Colleague: [Knows exactly what they’re asking but she is going to force them to admit it out loud.] We don’t ask attendees questions about race or religion when they sign up.

      Client: Yeah, but you can tell…you could just count….

      Colleague: …..[Say it, you jerks. Say you want me to *count the Jewish people* by judging the last names]

      Client:…..

      Colleague: …..

      Client: I guess we could just pick a different day…

      1. Pineapple Incident*

        I so appreciate this – there can be deliberate methods of inclusion for people without being an a-hole. Good for your colleague pushing this – so many people really don’t get it until they’re forced to put their bias to words.

      2. CatMom*

        Also lol lol lol at automatically being able to tell if someone is Jewish based on their name. I’m Jewish and my name is nearly the equivalent of “Mary Catherine O’Reilly.”

        1. Veronica*

          I never knew about the Jewish name thing till I was in my 30’s. I grew up in a f’d up place with f’d up people, but my parents didn’t care about religion or race and did not teach me this.
          So there are names that are obviously Jewish like “Schmuey” on The Nanny :), but if it’s not so obvious can you really assume anyone with a name that might be Jewish actually is? Their ancestors may have been Jewish but they are not, or their ancestors came from the same area as Jews but were not Jewish… the illogic of the whole concept is mind-boggling.
          My own last name could be considered Jewish, but the ancestry I know of on both sides is Christian, not that it matters.

          1. LilySparrow*

            No, of course not.

            And some names people perceive as sterotypically Jewish are actually regional, like German or Eastern European. I married a guy with a fairly common German surname, and I have had any number of people assume I’m Jewish.

            1. Veronica*

              Yes, that’s what I’m trying to say. I always assumed those names are German or Eastern European and never knew about the religion aspect.

            2. vanillacookies*

              Similar experience, I am not Jewish in the slightest but my last name causes people to ask me all the time, “are you Jewish?”

          2. Anonymous for this*

            My last name is an extremely English name. My background is Polish catholics (one side) and Eastern European Jews (other side). I don’t look stereotypically Polish or Jewish. If you didn’t know, you wouldn’t know. America’s gift to my family, enabling us to hide in plain sight.

  8. Beatrice*

    I think the flag is a red herring. It matters, but there are bigger, deeper seated issues in play here. Making the conversation about the flag is going to detract from your ability to question those issues, IMO. I think you need to think hard about whether this organization is capable of reversing the culture shift you’ve observed, what triggered it, and what your best avenue of attack is to reverse it, if attempting to reverse it is something you want to undertake. I don’t think influencing the kind of change you’re after is something you get a bunch of tries at, so I’d be really thoughtful about how and where you begin.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      This. The flag is a symbol of deeper things happening in the company leadership. Removing it won’t change those deeper trends.

    2. Washi*

      I agree with this. If it were just one misguided person, you could say something about how that flag doesn’t represent the organization well, but from what you’ve described, it sounds like this flag portrays the views of management pretty accurately!

      I would be job searching very intensively and documenting as much as you can so you can get enough together to make an official complaint. Speak up as much as you can, but if they’ve already stripped you of your management responsibilities, I’m worried you’re already on the way out.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        “Speak up as much as you can, but if they’ve already stripped you of your management responsibilities, I’m worried you’re already on the way out.”

        Yeah, that was dropped into the letter as an aside but seemed like a pretty big red flag (in addition to all the other red flags!).

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          Yeah, LW, there is no way this isn’t intentional at this point. One or two of this laundry list of problems might just be people being ignorant of the implications of their actions. But all together? It’s not just a house of red flags, the walls are gushing blood and telling you to get out!

  9. Ella*

    This would be questionable at best if it were just a few people displaying blue lives matter signs, but your company has expressly told you they prioritize white (and male) employees so they can cater to white, male clientele. That’s not just tone def, it’s actively racist. Like Alison said, I think it’s worth speaking out about if only for moral purposes, but if I were in your situation I’d be taking a long look at either what I could do to make my company’s actions less racist, or looking for a new job. A company that isn’t just passively okay with having little to no diversity, but actually looks at it as a *positive* thing isn’t one that seems worth committing to long term, in my opinion.

    1. pleaset*

      This.

      The best spin is “our clients are kinda racist/sexist and we have to cater to that.” They’ve been clear.

  10. Jennifer*

    Nothing is going to change. In fact, there may be some blowback on you if you raise the issue. They don’t care about offending black people that may interview there or black clients because there aren’t any. The flag will appeal to their clientele. This is how the world works, unfortunately. The bubble has burst for you apparently and you are seeing these people for who and what they really are, which is a good thing, but I think you’d be better off somewhere else.

  11. Czhorat*

    If nothing else, a prominent thin blue line flag sends a strong negative message to African-American applicants, employees, and clients; it’s a hate symbol.

    What would you do if there were a swastika? The “stars and bars” of the Confederacy? You shouldn’t be workign someplace where a hate symbol is openly displayed. If you can’t talk them into taking it down, I’d suggest leaving. Being a C-level employee in a firm willing to display such things will not be good for your professional or personal reputation; I’d certainly judge C-levels at such a company for that.

    1. Myrcallie*

      Same here. It’s wonderful that you’ve pushed back and would like to push back further; however, outside clients and other people in your field won’t see that. They’ll just see the thin blue line, and take it as a company stance (which it looks like it’s rapidly becoming).

      This goes way beyond just working with people whose political opinions differ, this is an actively hateful company (I’m sure each of those fired employees of colour had a reason on the paperwork that wasn’t ‘too brown to work here’, but they were all fired nonetheless), and it will drag you down with it if it isn’t already planning on getting rid of you, too.

    2. The Original K.*

      Right. I’m a Black woman and I would feel physically unsafe anywhere that displayed a Blue Lives Matter flag, and I would judge the hell out of a company that thought it was OK to display such things – they would be “that racist company” in my mind, and that’s how I’d describe them to others. Frankly, that’s how I’ve categorized this company after reading the letter. The company is 99% white on purpose, OP. (I feel terrible for the lone Black employee there.)

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        That lone black employee better be job searching. I can’t imagine what kind of racist bullshit they’re experiencing every day – not even micro-aggressions, but full on hate speech no doubt.

      2. Blunt Bunny*

        Yes very much this I’m wondering why they haven’t pushed them out as well. Also wondering why they haven’t had a lawsuit against them. I honestly can’t think of a 99% white men industry the police force they are claiming to support is more diverse. Maybe OP could try and get the company to support diverse police officers as a compromise. Like the Sikh cop that was murdered could you ask the company to donate money (I assume there is a online collection) or the black cop who was fired a week before retiring for wearing an Afro wig. If they bristle at the idea at they have previously shown support to the white male cops that have murdered civilians than you hear the answer loud and clear.

        1. Anonny*

          1. They can’t come up with a reason why their black employee can be fired that isn’t “they’re too black to work here”, but they’re coming up with one.

          2. They are they workplace’s “black friend.” You know. “We can’t be racist, we’ve got a black employee!”

          1. Veronica*

            Yes. This was called “tokenism” in the 70’s. A token non-white to make the company look good.
            I heard stories of the only black employee being put in front where customers and passer-by will see them, to make the company look diverse. Then after a couple of years they’re managed out so they never get promotions or seniority and management stays lily-white.

    3. epi*

      Very well said. This covers my reaction to this letter as well.

      The OP doesn’t say specifically, but their letter makes it sound like they may have been one of the women in leadership who just so happened to be demoted. This company sounds like a seething pit of bigotry that may well be turned on the OP if it hasn’t already. As a C-level employee who somehow no longer has management responsibilities, they are in the horrible position of appearing responsible for this environment, while actually being undermined themselves.

      I don’t think there is any way forward but to both speak up and try to get out. I hear that the OP’s company is not very diverse, but the OP can’t know for sure who else feels threatened and uncomfortable in this environment– whether because of their or a loved one’s identity, their politics, or simply because they are a decent person with morals. They need to see someone in leadership saying that these attitudes and behavior are wrong. It sounds like there are also many people in this office who need to hear that message so they can get started on a course of remedial morality. Blue Lives Matter paraphernalia are racist hate symbols that have no place in an office. It is horrible and inappropriate that the local cops wanted one for their workplace, as well.

      I hope the OP keeps in mind that sending that message matters even if they don’t get that flag taken down. And I hope they get out soon so they can show this kind of leadership and decency somewhere it is more likely to directly benefit the people who report to them.

    4. Wintermute*

      While I agree that many see it as a racist symbol, I think comparison to swastikas and confederate flags are way hyperbolic. There’s no OTHER reason someone displays a swastika, there are many other reasons that people could display that flag, and not everyone agrees on what it means. Now, many people disagree on what the confederate flag means as well, but we, as a society, have come to a general understanding and think that the people that see it as a harmless symbol of rebellion are whitewashing (no pun intended) history.

      But there is no agreed upon socially accepted meaning for the flag, yet, it’s a meaning that we’re still hashing out as a cultural conversation, and until that conversation comes to a conclusion I think the worst you can say it “many people display it for different reasons, some people see it as racist”.

      1. VintageLydia*

        Ehhhh there is no more argument about the Blue Lives Matter flag than the Confederate flag. It was created specifically as push back against the BLM movement. Anyone who doesn’t admit that are either entirely ignorant about current events or being purposely obtuse.

        1. Wintermute*

          I agree with you, but I think that it’s important to recognize that it’s not as culturally cemented. There are many reasons people display things. No one in this day and age can use “I was ignorant of its true meaning” as an excuse for the confederate flag, except maybe people in Europe and Japan (it’s super popular with some subcultures in both places, for some odd reason). But that is a perfectly valid excuse with this particular symbol. Maybe they have family that are police and were told about it by a police benevolent association, maybe they were told about it by a friend or someone else they trust, and they don’t see it that way because they’re not aware of the greater context.

          Now, in a situation like this specific letter, it’s not the symbol in isolation, it’s just the visible cherry on top of a crap sundae full of questionable recruiting practices, potentially illegally discriminatory labor behavior, and being apparently all to willing to explicitly cater to racist customers.

          1. Mhoops*

            I grew up in the South. There are a ton of racists who believe in flying the confederate flag because of “history”. They are entirely wrong, but will argue to their dying day what they believe it means. Similar to the Blue Lives Matter flag people have decided to be ignorant or racist. So let’s not pretend that the confederate flag is pretty much gone amongst people that if we didn’t know better we’d consider normal.

        2. Brett*

          “It was created specifically as push back against the BLM movement”
          No, no, no, that is totally false.
          The thin blue line flag was created in 2001. It is used ONLY to commemorate fallen officers (fire fighters have a corresponding thin red line flag). and has absolutely nothing to do with Blue Lives Matter, a racist organization who coopted the symbol for their rallies, and was served with an injunction to make them stop.
          (Which is why the thin blue line flag is no longer on their website.)

            1. Brett*

              The post above, though, that I quoted, is about the thin blue line flag, which people routinely erroneously associate with blue lives matter.
              Blue Lives Matter never created a flag. They co-opted an existing symbol for fallen police officers.

                1. MCMonkeyBean*

                  I don’t think it is true; everything I am finding online suggests that the flag just represents police officers in general–not fallen officers in particular.

              1. MayLou*

                I’m not from the USA and I don’t know a great deal about the Blue Lives Matter thing (but even I do know that it’s generally viewed as an anti-Black Lives Matter symbol), but I did want to point out that this argument isn’t as effective as you intended, because the swastika was likewise co-opted from its non-fascist origins. I’ve not known of anyone sincerely arguing that maybe they aren’t Nazis over there with that swastika armband, maybe they’re just Hindus.

                1. Brett*

                  The Blues Lives Matters crowd are not using the thin blue line flag though. They are using a different similar looking flag that has a us flag with a blue line on it, not the thin blue line flag that has two black bars above and below a blue line. (And now the official website is not using either.)

        3. AMT*

          Yeah, it’s a bit like displaying a swastika flag and saying, “It’s a symbol that’s been around for thousands of years in various cultural groups, so it doesn’t mean anything!” Like…okay, if you were Hindu or Native American and using it in a typical cultural context, I’d give you a pass, but most people who use the swastika symbol are neo-Nazis. Likewise, I’m sure there’s a tiny handful of people who don’t read the news and are ignorant to the Blue Lives Matter flag’s political meaning, but it’s hard to claim plausible deniability when it’s so widely known to be a racist symbol (and especially when the person flying it just haaaappens to have far-right talking points up their sleeve).

          1. Quill*

            And even if neonazis have only recently started using a symbol, (like a specific cartoon frog) it’s still not generating goodwill to leave it up after someone points that out.

            1. AMT*

              Right — you’d essentially be saying, “I’m comfortable being perceived as a bigot, both by people who might be threatened by these symbols and by bigots who might feel emboldened by my apparent display of bigotry.” To me, that’s functionally the same thing as being a “real” bigot.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Nah, they were probably willfully ignoring it just like the executives at this company save OP.

        2. Wintermute*

          I did, and I even referenced it– the issue is not the Objective Truth of the matter it’s the perception, which is inarguable. But acknowledging that people will have different interpretations is important to the answer I think. Approaching this from a “you might not realize the signal you’re sending and how some communities view this” is more useful than “this is bad and you should feel bad”

          However, in this specific set of circumstances, the greater context reveals that they probably won’t care about sending that signal and THAT is the real red flag.

      2. musical chairs*

        Conversations like these don’t really come to conclusions. New people and generations enter them everyday, key players enter and exit and re-enter all the time. We’ve been having a “conversation” about the confederate flag for over 150 years!

        We haven’t come to the conclusion you state at all. *You* might have, within your circles and within your limits of space or energy for the discussion, but I’m black all the time and when I see a confederate flag proudly displayed, I don’t get to call the conversation “over”, I have to assume I could be in danger. I have to assume I’m exposed in a way that I don’t necessarily have to in other spaces and it’s the same with neo-Nazi or Blue Lives Matter paraphernalia. Not that everyone who displays these things wishes me harm (although some definitely do) but they almost definitely don’t consider my safety or wellbeing in their decision making and they don’t see systemic racism as a problem worth solving. It’d be really foolish for someone to tell me who they are this super obvious way and I not believe them.

        I hope the letter writers says something. Just because you won’t get far doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it! This is their chance to have a meaningful and positive contribution to this conversation.

      3. Super Anon*

        Agreed that the comparison is hyperbole. The “thin blue line” concept predated the Blue Lives Matter response to Black Lives Matter. Growing up, people who had thin blue line memorabilia usually did so in remembrance for an officer who was killed or injured on the job. The sale of such items were used to support the families of fallen officers and the movement tried to convince local governments to better fund training/staffing/mental health services/community interaction to prevent the contentious situation we are currently in. The “thin” part of the line is a judgement on a government that is not adequately taking care of its citizens.

        That said, the pre-BLM supporters of the thin blue line are pretty ticked at the racists who are suddenly co-opting the concept and pretending to support the police just to anger the BLM movement. As a result, they are more likely to stick to subtle indicators and would find it unwise to display a blue line flag in a company office until the racists have moved on to a new organization.

        1. ShanShan*

          You could say the same damn thing about a swastika. It was a Buddhist and Hindu symbol for centuries before it was co-opted by the Nazis.

          That means nothing in 2019. It’s a Nazi symbol now, and I’m going to assume anyone displaying one in public (outside of, say, a Buddhist temple) is a Nazi unless I have a very good reason to think otherwise.

          1. Lana Kane*

            Agreed. What matters is what it means now.

            And what it means now is that there is a section of the population who believes that police officers should have carte blanche to shoot first, and ask questions later (or just not ask questions and just shoot). That it has become a response to BLM means that this carte blanche is *especially* intended towards shooting people of color. To me, comparing to a swastika is not as hyperbolic as is being claimed – the swastika is now a symbol of systematic, targeted murder, and so is this.

            OP, the writing is really on the wall in this case. You won’t get anywhere with your employer because this is a very deliberate message they are sending, along with all the other actions they have taken. I would even argue that to worry about clients is a moot point, because your company could in fact be very particular as to whom they do business with.

    5. Yup*

      I think the blue lives matter flag does a huge disservice to minority communities when you see that blue lives matter flag attached to most police officer’s uniforms.

      The cops believe it’s a symbol of unity and they just don’t understand what it means to minority communities.

    6. Dagny*

      “If nothing else, a prominent thin blue line flag sends a strong negative message to African-American applicants, employees, and clients; it’s a hate symbol.”

      No, it’s not. Police officers are killed in the line of duty, and the overheated rhetoric makes it worse.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        It is very much a hate symbol, it’s disingenuous to suggest it’s not, and I’ll leave it there to not run afoul of Alison’s commenting rules.

  12. Knitting Cat Lady*

    For what it’s worth, LW, your letter is a whole parade’s worth of red flags.

    Run, don’t walk, away from this one.

    Especially if you don’t tick all of the cis, white, male boxes!

  13. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP, unfortunately it sounds like your employer has decided that “leaning conservative” and “making clients comfortable” means diversity and inclusion are explicitly not valuable. Leadership has decided that the costs associated with alienating customers, maintaining an unnecessarily narrow market, and discriminating in employment decisions (either intentionally or through disparate impact) are more important to them than the benefits of declining to undertake those behaviors. So to paraphrase Alison, your boss sucks and isn’t going to change.

    I’m worried about your comment about having duties stripped though. I think you should seriously job search, as it sounds like viewpoint diversity is also not valued. Although your ethical and moral stance is admirable, I’m genuinely concerned that they may be pushing you out by slowly chipping away at your position. I’m sorry your employer is being so awful.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      This is pretty much exactly what I was about to say. OP, this is not a good place for you to be, and I don’t think you’re going to be the lone voice that changes it. It sucks, this whole scenario sucks — but you’re probably better served by getting your own oxygen mask on, and by oxygen mask I mean job search.

    2. Arts Akimbo*

      Could she potentially sue her employer for doing that? It seems like a pretty clear-cut discrimination case. Even if they have papered over it with “reasons,” the fact that every woman has been pushed out of management and almost all POC have been fired for “also reasons” seems like it would be a slam dunk. IANAL though!

      1. Chocolate Trinity*

        Given that it was branded as a “reorganization” and that LW didn’t necessarily say they were demoted, just relieved of management duties, that could make it harder to prove definitively if the company can document how these changes benefited the company’s structure. Also, I could’ve missed it, but I don’t think LW confirmed whether or not they were female, which doesn’t help them with a discrimination case. But I think discussing it with a lawyer would be beneficial regardless.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          Ugh, yes, the “reorg” gives a bit more cover, doesn’t it. And haha, I totally assumed without cause that LW was one of the women who had been in management! More coffee for me!

          1. Chocolate Trinity*

            The power of coffee! And no worries, I have to reread things a million times on here sometimes.

            Hopefully LW does speak to someone about the legalities of everything this place is doing.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I think the tricky part will be if OP is a white cis man (although there’s still likely a case). If OP is not those things, then this is a pretty clear case.

        OP might want to think about making a whistleblower complaint to the Board if OP is in a state where that is a thing. It may be safest to do that on the way out, but that might give OP a way to feel that they did everything they could before leaving.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          Ha, yes, I totally assumed the gender, didn’t I! Whistleblowing does seem like the way to go.

      3. LabTechNoMore*

        Don’t be so sure. Based on my experience with EEOC, even blatant racism isn’t going to be clear-cut enough.

        Case in point: former co-worker called me racist slur. Boss didn’t help. EEOC said that since coworker, technically, wasn’t directing it at me, but rather calling all people of my nationality the slur, that it wouldn’t count. (Yay equality.) So, short of a notarized memo full of slurs and threats, it can be hard to prove and provide documented proof, even in painfully obvious cases.

  14. Crivens!*

    OP, this would make me really uncomfortable too. If you’re able to push back, please do. But if you feel you can’t or that pushback wouldn’t do any good, I agree with Alison that this may no longer be the culture for you. This might be a “when someone tells you who they are, believe them” situation.

  15. Pieska Boryska*

    If you’re a woman, I would consider that your demotion is part of an effort to push you out so they can create more of a good ol’ boys club. At best you won’t get anywhere and it very well might put a target on your back. I’d be looking elsewhere, unfortunately. You can’t help others when you’re on thin ice.

    1. Fae*

      100% agree. And even if the OP isn’t a woman, I have to wonder if the demotion is because they dared to speak out about the company becoming less diverse and needing to change.

    2. wittyrepartee*

      I know a young woman who was recently let go for a lack of “culture fit”. This is probably because she spoke up about sexist behavior at work.

      All of us slightly older female friends were like “it’s scary out there girl.”.

    3. Witchy Human*

      And, immediately, stop thinking about this place in terms of “we.” You may still work there, but if things are going in such an appalling direction and you have no power to stop it, it’s time to mentally re-frame those decisions as “they.”

  16. Jennifer*

    Also, I’m thankful that people like you pull back the curtain and let women and minorities who never get a seat at this table know what is actually said and done behind closed doors.

  17. Myrcallie*

    Start job searching- now, and as a priority. They don’t like diversity in people, and they clearly don’t like anyone who doesn’t blindly accept their racist, sexist status quo. If you, a C-level employee, can’t speak your mind here, the place is probably long past saving, and it looks like they’re looking to get you out of there, too.

    1. Lana Kane*

      Please don’t. This is a serious subject that has real world implications for many people and shouldn’t be devalued into drama material.

  18. Jenny*

    I just wanted to point out that the Thin Blue Line is actually a long-time symbol for police officers honoring those fellow officers who have been killed in the line of duty. Unfortunately, the Blue Lives Matter movement has made it their own to counter the BLM movement (like many posters above mention). Regardless of the intent, the flag should be taken down and has no place in the workplace given that it is very likely to make others uncomfortable.

    1. Murphy*

      I believe the flag itself (the design incorporated into the American flag) is relatively recent though.

      One of my neighbors has a huge one in his yard, and it makes me uncomfortable. But it’s his house so there’s obviously nothing I can do.

      1. Shad*

        Yeah, I at least would definitely see a difference between the plain three stripe design and the color shifted American flag design. The former, to me, is just comparable to a “support the troops” thing. The latter is specifically calling to blue lives matter and promoting both that racist response to BLM and an extremely problematic attitude towards policing in general.

        1. Parenthetically*

          I’d say it *CAN* be comparable to a “support the trooooooooops” thing, but is other times a conscious adoption of that symbol for racist blue-lives garbage.

          In addition to being a symbol of racist blue-lives garbage, the color-shifted American flag design violates US flag code in at LEAST three ways I can think of, and thus exposes the entire thing as a charade. It’s not patriotic, it’s fkn unpatriotic as hell, and disrespectful to the flag they claim to love so much.

      2. Ofotherworlds*

        Because two police officers were murdered on duty in a local university town, there are lots of progressive people who live fairly near me who have thin blue line bumper stickers to support the Westerville police department and this specific officers’ families. Those stickers don’t have the American flag defaced with the blue line, though, just the thin blue line between broader black lines. So, yes, I think we need to make that distinction. The defaced flag is the anti-black hate symbol, the line by itself just says I’m a cop, or related to a cop, in love with a cop, or support my local PD.

        Of course, if your local PD has a particularly bad relationship with local communities of color any support for the local PD could unfortunately be seen as racist, but that’s a “know your context” issue, not an “everyone everywhere” issue.

        1. Brett*

          The black bars with a blue line symbol is meant to show support. The thin blue line flag is specifically for families of fallen officers.
          Both were co-opted by the blue lives matter racists. The creators of the flag symbol got an injunction against them, but the black bars symbol is still used routinely by blue lives matter.

      3. Brett*

        No, the flag itself has been around since 2001. It was created as a memorial to officers who lost their lives in 9/11. There is a corresponding thin red flag for firefighters, but because a bunch of racists did not try to coopt it, no one knows about it.
        The creators of the thin blue line flag sued the blue lives matter website and got an injunction against them to stop them from using the flag.

        1. Ofotherworlds*

          That’s great news about the injunction. I didn’t know aboy the flags, thanks for informing me.

        2. Environmental Compliance*

          There’s a thin [various color] line symbol for police, fire department, EMS, and a whole bunch of other first responder type jobs. I’m curious to see what others think about those non-police flags.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            Well, symbols. Not the flags, those aren’t appropriate IMO. The thick black line + thin red line + thick black line combos.

            We have a lot of firefighters in the family.

            1. Brett*

              Yeah, when I saw flag, I mean the actual cloth object that has two black bars separated by a blue bar. The desecrated american flag symbol is not the thin blue line flag.

    2. River Song*

      I’m a long time lurker, that just came to say that this has really made me do some deep thinking. My husband is a police officer, and we have a thin blue line flag blanket that someone gifted us a few years ago. We dont use it, its folded up in a blanket cabinet, but I honestly never realized it was connected to the Blue Lives Matter movement. There is so much random thin blue line stuff, with alternate red flags for firemen, that I didnt connect the two. And while I knew that the blue lives matter movement was created to detract from the black lives matter movement, which I fully support, I didnt realize people who displayed them were viewed as racists, either.
      It won’t change anything for me personally, as we already dont wear or display thin blue line things, except helping me to be more empathetic and understanding about how others feel when it is openly displayed.

      1. J*

        Yep. I assume anyone who displays a ‘blue lives’ flag is either (A) actively racist or (B) utterly ignorant.
        And don’t get me started on the ‘Punisher’ logo.

      2. Dahlia*

        Can I ask you an honest question?

        “blue lives matter movement was created to detract from the black lives matter movement, which I fully support, I didnt realize people who displayed them were viewed as racists, either.”

        How do you think that going against black people saying “hey, quit murdering us please” isn’t a racist thing?

        1. Washi*

          I think River Song is saying that since she didn’t know the thin blue line flag was associated with Blue Lives Matter, she didn’t realize displaying the blue line flag would be considered racist.

          1. River Song*

            Yes! Everything I’ve seen has had a corresponding thin red line product for firefighters, even down to the flag logo. It just didn’t connect that this was the blue lives matter official symbol.

        2. River Song*

          Well, I guess because I live in a rural area of a rural state (entire state population is smaller than the population of Austin, Texas) and it’s a bubble, I guess? Which is why I try to read and take in other people’s viewpoints.
          Most people I have seen post blue lives matter things have been family of police officers, and I think it comes from fear of their safety and trying to support them. Dont get me wrong, I think its misguided, entirely! And I’ve definately seen blue lives matter posts that dog whistle racism. I’ve just seen more that purely mention supporting local police, so that I suppose it wasn’t automatic racism in my mind.
          One of the reasons I love this blog so much is that I can read other peoples viewpoints in a constructive and respectful manner, and challenge what I never knew needed challenging before. I appreciate what AAM created here.

    3. Midwesterner*

      Thanks. That’s interesting, and I didn’t know the history, and I hadn’t seen the black flag with one blue stripe.

    4. Ana Gram*

      I’m a cop and I’ve never heard this explanation. I’ve always understood it to mean that cops are “the thin blue line” that separates order from chaos. That’s why stickers and other thin blue line emblems are a black bar, a blue bar, and another black bar. That’s said, Blue Lives Matter is a completely separate and very polarizing thing that shouldn’t be displayed in a workplace.

    5. Lavender Menace*

      I would like to point out that the “thin blue line,” both the concept and the flag, has always been controversial and felt hostile to black people/people of color. The “thin blue line” concept has historically been used to refer to how police officers will protect their own, even if their own is accused or blatantly guilt of corruption or violence against citizens, and it has been criticized as an endorsement of a militarized police state. Black people as a collective have never felt welcomed by the “thin blue line.” This is just now entering mainstream consciousness, but it’s not like police officers just started killing unarmed black people a few years ago.

  19. IT But I Can't Fix Your Printer*

    On some level, it might actually be helpful to have the flag displayed because it’s telling potential clients/candidates the truth about this company and its leadership: they admit to prioritizing the comfort of existing white clients and their own conservative values over the comfort and equitable treatment of marginalized folks. I’d much rather know that at an interview stage so I can opt out before I accept a job.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup – let these people wave all their racist ass flags with pride so I can know exactly who I’m dealing with.

    1. AuroraLight37*

      Yeah, they’ve made it clear that diversity doesn’t matter to them, so at least this way any white/cis/straight people who do get to the interview can figure out that they might want to look elsewhere for a job that’s in line with their values. Or they might decide that this is exactly what they want, in which case, oh, well.

  20. AuroraLight37*

    Personally, this sounds like a time when I would start job-hunting, just in case. This doesn’t sound like a place where pushing back will get you anywhere, especially considering you’ve been stripped of managerial duties. I might try it anyway, but given that the organization seems to be systematically getting rid of women/minorities in any and all positions, I would want a parachute in case the CEO decides you should be the next to go.

    Good luck.

  21. Another name*

    “When I have brought up issues of diversity and inclusion in the past, I have been told that our clients are overwhelmingly white and conservative, and we need to make them comfortable”

    And then they did a reorg and stripped you of your management responsibilities.

    I think that says a lot.

    I also think it is worth talking to management because it is the right thing to do, but you are not likely to change anything.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Yup. The responsibilities being taken away was most likely due to speaking up in the first place. This company is disgusting. If I were OP, I’d jump ship and then write the most no-holds-barred review on Glassdoor, Indeed, and anywhere else that accepts employee reviews to let everyone know just how klanish this company actually is.

      1. Drew*

        You beat me to the “post honest comments so people know what they’re in for” punch.

        Also, user name is 100% on point.

    2. AuroraLight37*

      Yes, that strongly suggests retaliation to me as well. Hopefully the OP will start looking for something else, because this place sounds like a snakepit.

  22. Heidi*

    Sorry you’re having to deal with this OP. I wonder if feedback from the clients may have more impact than from a lone voice within. Clients can’t be fired or slowly pushed out and replaced. This flag is supposed to make white clients comfortable, but I imagine that there are white clients that are as uncomfortable as you are with it. Is there any way to solicit their feedback on this?

    1. EPLawyer*

      Oh sure the clients can. If someone is determined to be racist, they will be racist and get rid of anyone around them who tries to point it out.

      Anyone who doesn’t like the flag, will be told to take their business elswhere. They will be told with some excuse like “do the the reorganization we jsut can’t devote the time to your business as we have in the past. Perhaps another firm would have more capability.”

      TPTB will believe they can find more white conservative clients, easily and won’t care they lose the non conservative clients.

      1. Lana Kane*

        Absolutely. These people know who they want to go into business with and I wouldn’t be surprised if he put that up for that reason, at least in part.

  23. Llellayena*

    I am more disturbed by the changeover to almost all white male than I am about the flag. “Making your clients comfortable” is a sorry excuse for losing diversity. Your clients should be comfortable because you provide excellent service to them, regardless of the people you employ. I’d use your C-level influence to push that and use the flag as a symptom of that rather than a cause in itself. You can counter a flag with another flag and/or cause (volunteer for a counter organization and promote that on the company website too), but you need to address the underlying issue.

    1. BenAdminGeek*

      Exactly. And if they are hiring based on skin color, they’re necessarily limiting their applicant pool, so reducing the quality of their workforce. Obviously, it’s just the moral thing not to be racist. But these people are also harming their business’ viability with their action. If I’m a client, that’s not what I want.

    2. Wintermute*

      Not to mention, customers are no exception to hostile workplace laws. If a customer says something racist, you’re legally liable if you don’t toss them out on their ear. Something a lot of companies fail to realize, bad policies about what to do when customers start hurling racial invective could absolutely create a legally hostile workplace if it happens often enough (and having worked in retail and call centers– it happens often enough! if you don’t have a policy that lets your call center reps hang up the phone if they’re being racially abused, you, too, are at risk).

  24. Beth*

    Your company has taken a very hard turn to the right, and will probably continue doubling down until they’re so far down that there’s no more down to double.

    Get out. NOW.

    Take your sympathy and compassion, and your professional skills and talents, and find another job with a company that is not going down the ethical tubes. Find a company where your employment won’t be an embarassment for the rest of your professional life. If nothing else, you don’t want to be working there if some future misstep lands them in viral hell, or a criminal court, or both.

    1. OrigCassandra*

      Yes, another serious reason to get out now is that continuing to work at this white supremacist hellpit risks your own professional reputation, OP. As your workplace starts to smell worse and worse, so will you.

      Now and then an article will pop up in the IT trade press discussing how (e.g.) Uber and Facebook employees are having trouble moving on from those companies because prospective employers are unimpressed with their personal/professional ethics. This is not a hole you want to dig yourself into — get out.

  25. jhhj*

    When I can contribute, I have tried to show diversity in our work because I think it’s the right thing to do and it makes us more appealing to a broader section of clients and potential employees. I think this flag harms that effort.

    You’re not actually going to fool clients and potential employees into thinking your office full of straight white men who talk about being proud conservatives is actually diverse via taking down a blue lives matter flag. Accept that your company is interested in catering to a conservative clientele, do everything you can to stop discrimination in hiring and at the office, but you can’t stop employees and customers from self-selecting out, and you might want to look into doing the same.

    1. hbc*

      Yeah, I think even if you take away the moral component of what they’re doing, OP still has a fundamental mismatch on what trajectory this company needs to succeed. That can be okay if you’re low-level, but if you’re C-suite, you’re going to wear down trying to swim against that current. Building a plan around showing diversity* at this place would be like a lone Walmart exec trying to get a piece of the luxury, 1%er market.

      *How do you even do that here? “Let’s crop this picture with our client, each of our tokens ended up close together in the sea of white male faces.” Or is it emphasizing the “diversity” that has employee origins covering all the way from northwestern Europe to southwestern Europe?

  26. White rabbit*

    When I started one job, I had to listen to my new boss explain that I could put up posters and such in my office so long as they were not offensive to anyone — while I started at the huge poster of Jesus prominently displayed above his desk. Sure enough, he promoted only the white people who came to his Bible study groups.

    When people show you who they are, believe them. I’d be job hunting, hard.

    1. Anon Librarian*

      I agree. It’s unlikely that they’re going to change at this point. Go somewhere better. You’ll do more good by contributing to a healthier organization and ceasing to associate with these people.

  27. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

    When I have brought up issues of diversity and inclusion in the past, I have been told that our clients are overwhelmingly white and conservative, and we need to make them comfortable (I don’t think that assessment is strictly true, for what it’s worth).

    Not sure if I’m reading this line correctly: does it mean that when you bring up diversity of employees, management says that it would make clients uncomfortable? Or is it when you bring up diversity initiatives (ex: celebrating Black History Month)? Because if it’s the former, 1) that’s a hiring discrimination lawsuit waiting to happen, and 2) it’s one of those situations in which I’d pull a Naive And Immune To Subtlety routine.

    “Why don’t we hire more POC?”
    “We can’t, it would make our white conservative clients uncomfortable.”
    “Why would our clients be uncomfortable working with POC?”
    “Well, you know…”
    “No, I don’t. Why would they be uncomfortable?”
    (Repeat until THEY are uncomfortable)

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      This is great… when you can afford to leave. Because it’s the CEO of the company, and he’s going to make you leave if you make him uncomfortable.

    2. nuttysaladtree*

      OP may consider this and the displaying of Black Lives Matters and LGBT+ flag suggestion above during the last two weeks.

  28. Ashley*

    I think that Maya Angelou quote applies here, “when people show you who they are, believe them.” A company’s culture isn’t going to change if the leadership doesn’t have the desire to change it. The president of the company is displaying this flag. This is who they are as an organization.

    And by the way, I don’t see the difference in promoting/showcasing that flag on your social media while donating it to the police department and displaying it in the office. Either way your giving a platform and support to that political belief.

  29. !*

    Yeah, I hate any of these kinds sayings plastered on flags, billboards, t-shirts, etc. because ultimately ALL lives matter, it’s when you start to single out specific groups that it can get really sticky. That your company would prefer to marginalize minorities to keep their white customers happy tells you they are only thinking of the bottom line, and is not interested being an influencer in the fight against inequality and racism. Unless you can get more people in your organization to support what should be the norm for workplaces, you are fighting a losing battle and are being penalized for it under the guise of a reorganization.

    1. nonymous*

      just fyi, the slogan “all lives matter” is also known as a pushback movement against BLM. While I understand the sentiment, the BLM movement is about acknowledging and addressing the issues of systemic and outrageous racism that are specific to that group. While I’m sure other demographics have issues meriting further examination, BLM is a specific focus that deserves it’s own space. Advocating for adjacent slogans actively diminishes that experience.

    2. Blueberry*

      All lives matter, yes. Just like all houses matter. But the slogan “all lives matter” is a call to let the Black family’s house keep burning down and spray the water on the White family’s house which is currently completely fine.

    3. it's me*

      For the zillionth time, the phrasing of “Black Lives Matter” says nothing about other lives not mattering, and is important in the context of black lives having not mattered as much as others, in the past and now.

      1. Quill*

        We don’t generally have to remind people that some group of people matter if they’re being treated, on average, as well as everyone else, so All Lives Matter is 100% deflection.

    4. Nom the Plumage*

      The reason why it’s BLM is because, evidently, the cops are already aware that white lives matter. But they need to be reminded that black lives ALSO matter.

      1. Liz T*

        I just can’t fathom how anyone in good faith hears “black lives matter” and takes it to mean “black lives matter more than other lives.” That’s just not what the words mean.

  30. katelyn*

    I think that this might fall under “when someone tells/shows you who they are, believe them”.

    You’ve raised diversity both through the lens of inclusion and exclusion and they have told you they are not interested. I don’t think there’s magic words that will make them see the light in this case. If this is who they are, how much longer are you willing to be considered part of that team? C-suite is equivalent to management in most people’s eyes, so you will have some ownership of this problem the longer you stay there without it being addressed.

  31. Zephy*

    +1 suggestion for OP to get out while the getting’s good. Best of luck in your job search, maybe throw up a Glassdoor review on your way out. Your company’s behavior is gross.

  32. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    “Keeping our clients comfortable” sounds to me like it really means “keeping us* comfortable.” It’s very easy to use clients as an excuse, since keeping clients with the business is an obvious priority, and unless you’re in marketing, you probably don’t have the stats at your fingertips about your clients’ demographics.

    What if you stopped trying so hard to portray diversity and inclusion that don’t sound like they exist? What if you just let the company be as obviously conservative as it is behind closed doors? And in the meantime, work on your exit plan. It sounds as though the direction has been chosen, and you’re already getting nudged out for speaking up about it — the removal of management responsibilities doesn’t sound like a positive indicator for your long-term career prospects with this company.

    * “Us” meaning “we the straight/white/cis/male portion of the management team”

  33. SQL Coder Cat*

    Yeah, you need to mention this- in your exit interview. They’re not going to change, and you need to get out before they ‘manage you out’. Nothing you say is going to make an impression on these people, but at least they’ll know how you feel and you won’t be putting your job further at risk.

  34. a good mouse*

    How should places like this be dealt with? If LW leaves, it goes on being an organization run by cis white men, and presumably still unwelcoming to women and POC. LW leaving might be the best thing for him, but so we shrug and say this company is just off limits to women and POC?

    1. Ashley*

      That’s going to happen regardless. It’s hapoening as we speak while the OP is working there. Staying at an organization like this makes you complicit in their work culture and behavior. Ideally they would find it difficult to attract and retain employees, including cis White men, because of their work culture but I’m sure they’ll find enough employees that share their beliefs.

      1. The Original K.*

        Right. The company is majority white right now, today, on purpose. The company’s senior leadership is all-male on purpose. They actively took steps to ensure those things happened. It’s that way because they want it to be that way.

        This company would be completely off-limits to me because of my own self-respect and regard for my well-being, regardless of whether or not the OP works there and is trying to change things from the inside (which, as has been said, is almost certain to fail because this is the way the company wants and actively chooses to operate).

        1. the_scientist*

          I’m reading this letter and all of these comments yelling “IT’S NOT A BUG, IT’S A FEATURE” out loud, so it’s good I’m working from home today I guess.

          But just to re-iterate. The executive team has made it like this on purpose. They want it this way. They don’t care what other people think.

    2. Chocolate Trinity*

      I was thinking along those same lines. The company ideally shouldn’t just be left to fester this way with no intervention. However, LW sounds like they have tried to push back on these practices only to have been possibly retaliated against for doing so. Depending on LW’s situation, continuing to push back would be ideal, but in terms of practical advice, there’s only so much one person can do before reaching their limit, either mentally or due to further retaliation. Only LW knows their own limit.

      Otherwise, even if LW eventually leaves, they and others can spread the word on how this place operates and hope their client base dries up. Even in regards to the current clientele that they apparently don’t want to make “uncomfortable,” we can hope that over time as turnover occurs at those places, better-minded people take over and decide to take their business elsewhere. That’s probably too optimistic of a take, but it’s one of the few I can think of that would spur this company to change it’s ways and it’s a difficult situation when this company seems to be thriving in spite (or even because) of their practices, so their unfortunately isn’t going to be much incentive for them to change unless they’re forced to.

    3. Diahann Carroll*

      Yes. Let that company cater to the demographic it wants to cater to and let the market do its thing. If they’re right and their clientele is all white conservatives who prefer all white conservative businesses, they’ll remain profitable. But if they’re wrong, they’ll soon be out of business. As a black woman, I would never want to work at such a place (I’ve declined many jobs and interviews at places I discovered were predominantly white and male), so this wouldn’t bother me.

    4. Bow Ties Are Cool*

      LW isn’t going to be able to change it. LW has already been effectively demoted for trying to change it. The best thing they can do is save themselves, and hope that eventually the company’s own actions bring it down.

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      A genuine question — who is “we” in your last question? We the commentariat on this site don’t have the ability to do much more than what you said — shrug and say this company sucks. We the country have laws in place regarding employment discrimination, and the company should be dealt with according to those laws. That requires someone willing to do some bridge-burning, and depending on where the OP is located and what their personal circumstances are, they may or may not be in a position to be the one going to the EEOC about it.

    6. Traffic_Spiral*

      Leave a very factual glassdoor review once you’re out listing all the stuff they’ve done.

      Seriously, LW has already brought up their concerns, and been stripped of all authority and is next on the chopping block – at this point there’s nothing more they can do. Just leave and give others the heads-up.

    7. The IT Plebe*

      You deal with it the way you deal with anything involving discrimination: get it out in the open. Someone mentioned GlassDoor already, and that’s where I’d recommend OP start as well.

      Could there be professional repercussions to this? Possibly, but if OP remains professional and sticks to strictly the facts, most if not all potential blowback will come from either the company or other companies that operate similarly and aren’t worth a second glance. But people deserve to know what kind of company they are and the only way to do that is to get the word out.

    8. smoke tree*

      Essentially, yes. LW and the other remaining non-white supremacists should leave the rest of the company to stew in their own bigotry. I don’t think a few lone voices of dissent are going to be able rehabilitate this company.

    9. Jules the 3rd*

      The hopeful idea is that companies that are off limits to women and PoC will wither versus the companies that are able to hire / support / promote / nurture the best employees. Talent vs Structural Advantages…

      ‘We’ the public can support that by:
      1) Not giving our money to companies like this
      2) Telling the companies we’re not giving our money to them (I have a list, I try to write letters once a year)
      3) Not working for them – no giving them cover with our token presence
      4) Supporting strong labor laws and enforcement, so that people directly harmed (like all the PoC this company fired) have a shot at a successful lawsuit. No forced arbitration, for example.

    10. aebhel*

      It already is. One employee with no actual management power can’t change the company, and I’d bet that women and POC are already self-selecting out. They’re being run out by management, and it doesn’t look like OP has the power to change that.

    11. Donkey Hotey*

      I struggle with this at my current employer: 70 people in the building, 7 women (all front office support), 3 people of color (plus another four service techs who are never in the building.)

      I fight the fight through just casual observations like, “Hey, (Engineer), when you were in Engineering school, what was the diversity breakdown like?” and “Don’t you think it’s odd that (local University) is turning out classes of engineers who are 75% people of color and we don’t have a single non-white dude in the department?”

  35. CatCat*

    I don’t think asking is going to get you an outcome that really matters here. First, because the request is unlikely to go anywhere. Second, because there are much bigger issues going on here. I mean, firing all but one of the black staff… could be legit, but unless white staff are getting fired at a similar rate for the same behavior that led up to the firing (and likewise, no white employees are keeping their jobs for behavior black employees get fired for), there is an off smell here and it certainly doesn’t look good given the additional context we have. In particular, pushing back on diversity and inclusion in the workplace with the lame-o argument that you need to keep clients “comfortable.” We all know what that is supposed to mean. Yikes.

    Meanwhile, you’ve been stripped of all your management responsibilities. That certainly doesn’t seem like something that bodes well. All this stuff combined… do you feel you can securely raise the flag issue and (1) get an outcome that will make one iota of difference here, and (2) not jeopardize your job?

    Alternatively, instead of taking it down, could you put up a flag of your own that is indicative of diversity and inclusiveness? And not jeopardize your job?

    Ultimately, there is serious culture problem here that flags being put up or taken down isn’t going to solve. Do you think you want to keep working at a place with problems like this?

  36. Ugh*

    Now you have the perfect response to “Why are you leaving your current job?” in your round of interviews with new companies. I would totally cite lack of diversity/culture fit and use it as a litmus year to how the interviewers react. That’s just me!

  37. Ermine*

    I agree that having a conversation about the flag and about diversity in general may not be productive. However, using that as an excuse to let things stand is a perfect example of white privilege.

    White people HAVE to stand up and speak out about these things or we will never be able to dismantle the system of white privilege that runs our country. OP, please say something on behalf of the people of color who cannot.

    1. fposte*

      The OP has spoken up and been punished for it, though. She can’t single-handedly make leadership do something different. I think she’ll do more good for the world if she takes care of herself and champions diversity in a workplace that’s willing to take action rather than keeping to the message and being increasingly disempowered if not fired.

      This isn’t a situation worth martyrdom.

    2. Blueberry*

      As Fposte said, I think OP actually has spoken up, and even been punished for it. I’m not sure what more any individual can do.

      1. Quill*

        There’s a point where you gotta flee like rats from a sinking ship, and OP is already either there, or staring that point in the face as it approaches.

    3. Aggretsuko*

      Sometimes standing up and speaking out does no good, and actually makes it worse on you or gets you fired to boot.

  38. Candid Candidate*

    I think you already understand this, OP, but the flag is a symptom of a bigger, deeper problem. Having worked for vocally conservative employers before (including a private university and a Fortune 500 company), the lesson I learned is to position the symptoms in the larger context of the deeper issue when you have to bring it up. And you have to bring it up when it materially affects people, like when personnel decisions are being made and you notice that once again, they’re not choosing any women, people of color, etc., for new roles or leadership positions.

    Also, I’m betting that if one of your executives is hanging a Blue Lives Matter flag in his office and that your leadership is “unapologetically conservative and they’re not shy about expressing it” that you have been present for several conversations where that conservatism has been a subject matter. If those conversations ever lead to racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist, classist remarks, that is your opportunity to be an active participant in transforming your company culture. Start by questioning the often presumed premise of the conversation – that everyone in the room agrees with them on something like Blue Lives Matter, e.g., “Hmm. I see that issue differently, Ted. I don’t think that respecting law enforcement and respecting black lives have to be mutually exclusive. Police officers have a dangerous job, but their experience is different because a uniform can be taken off, but a person’s skin color can’t be.”

    I know that in the office conversations like this can be tricky, and I know that there’s a risk to this, but that’s kind of the whole point of the Black Lives Matter movement, isn’t it? To question our own biases, to spur white people to speak out against injustice so that black lives are seen as inherently human, respected and valued.

  39. .*

    You work for white supremacists and they’re not going to change; they’re only going to get worse. The best thing you can do is leave and warn people away from this horror show.

  40. Bunny*

    “I understand it’s a dangerous job”

    This needs to stop, being an officer is absolutely not a particularly dangerous job, it’s not even top 10, the most dangerous part of being a police officer is driving the car.

    The fact that we have just all agreed that being a police officer is especially dangerous has become so toxic to our society. Doing roofing or sanitation for example are MUCH more dangerous jobs but we tend to treat the people doing those job with disdain and compensate them very poorly.

      1. VintageLydia*

        It is still, statistically, a more dangerous job. You can count healthcare workers (especially low paid workers like CNAs and nurses) as far more dangerous as well. And police work is getting safer and safer each year. In addition to that, being a cop *already* has special consideration under the law. Punishments are harsher if you harm a cop (or perceived to have harmed a cop) even when that cop is off duty and not acting as a response of their job. Literally no other job affords you as many protections under the law aside from politicians, including service members.

        1. fposte*

          Yes, a lot of the dangerous industries don’t have huge financial compensation, especially when you get past the owners. Roofing is another really dangerous one in that category. (Fishing and logging are far worse than those for fatality rates, but I don’t know about the compensation there.)

      2. fposte*

        I don’t think anybody’s saying that’s a good thing; the point is that the fourfold likelier chance of dying if you’re a sanitation worker merits headlines too, and it’s not a lot of comfort to that worker’s grieving family that he wasn’t shot.

      3. blackcat*

        Such events happening to cops are extremely rare.

        What is very common is workers being killed by driving or by faulty equipment. Google Sanitation Worker Crushed Accident and you’ll find tons of recent stories

        The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks fatal job injuries by occupation. You can google that, too. Most recent data I found says top is fishermen, then loggers, pilots, roofers, sanitation workers, iron and steal workers, vehicle drivers, farmers, landscapers, and power linemen.

        I’ll link a news article with more recent data, too.

        1. Witchy Human*

          And even if we’re talking specifically about homicide and workplace violence: in plenty of places, working retail or driving a taxi is just as dangerous as being a police officer.

      4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        No. Instead they are more likely to get smashed by faulty huge crushing equipment.

        Have you ever had a tree fall wrong and squash a cop before?

        Ever have a cop crushed by a crane that crashes to the ground while someone is operating it?

        How about the people killed building the railroads, mining and fishing?

        Cops have a dangerous job but there are other jobs that you die from just because of the sheer danger involved. Just by getting your hair caught in machine or a piece of clothing isn’t secured perfectly. You can get boiled, skinned and crushed to death in a lot of professions.

        Then on top of all the mass shootings that happen everywhere. So yeah. Being a copy is dangerous. But so is just being alive.

        1. aebhel*

          And a lot of them are dangerous specifically because of a lack of regulation. My spouse used to be a tower climber, which is way the hell up there on the list of dangerous jobs. It’s just intrinsically sort of dangerous (falling equipment; the fact that you’re hanging 350 feet in the air with nothing but a harness and some clips to keep you from becoming a dark smear on the ground beneath), but also a lot of places are poorly maintained and there aren’t a lot of systemic regulations about training and safety standards. He’s also been shot at, incidentally, because a lot of people who lease land for rural tower sites are territorial and well-armed.

          And no, people who die in industrial accidents don’t tend to get headlines and parades. That doesn’t make them any less dead.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            And even with the regulations they have in place, they only do so much when you’re fighting against nature half the time! It’s a rough sea that takes out an entire crew. Or a faulty rig that explodes. Or a mine that collapses.

            My grandfather was a logger, he was one of the lucky ones that didn’t lose any limbs or even fingers. Most others were not that lucky. His brother had a hook hand due to an accident he was involved in.

            I knew a guy that got his arm ripped off in a logging incident. And they were all careful AF and following strict rules/regs of their own. Only the grace of the team having someone medically trained made it so that he just lost his arm and not his life from bleeding out.

      5. Allypopx*

        I’m worried about my husband getting shot at his job all the time.

        He’s a teacher.

        Cops don’t have this market cornered, they’re just louder about it.

        1. Dankar*

          So true. My partner has Google alerts set up for the two institutions where I work and another for my best friend. Just last week, we got alerts for shots fired on her campus. (Luckily, it ended up being nothing.)

          I think about the possibility of being shot at work a lot. Maybe not everyday–I have a lot of work stuff to think about, after all!–but it’s not like educators have a 0% chance of finding themselves in the line of fire.

      6. Nephron*

        Sanitation worker is a bad choice for you because you are talking about a population that must go into neighborhoods regardless of crime rate and spend sometimes hours there. So I have provided you with 2 examples of what you asked for. You should also consider that the same neighborhoods cops respond to calls in are frequented by unarmed social workers. Shooting of cops has been on a downward trend for decades, we passed specific legislation to limit bullets used to kill cops, increased penalties for those that killed or assaulted cops, and provided them with military grade hardware to protect them. The decades long campaign has been successful and being a cop is a safer job that it used to be, and much safer than many other jobs.

        Nov. 2018: Sanitation worker shot and killed while working in Cleveland. https://www.news5cleveland.com/news/local-news/oh-cuyahoga/crime-stoppers-releases-name-of-sanitation-worker-shot-killed-while-working-reward-offered

        July 2019: Sanitation worker shot along with another man in NYC. https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2019/07/06/sanitation-worker-pellet-gun-shot/

      7. Lavender Menace*

        Headlines aren’t statistical evidence. They’re selectively chosen based on what journalists think people want to read. A sanitation worker dying in an accident isn’t as sensational – especially in the current milieu – as a police officer being ambushed and shot for doing his job.

    1. Quill*

      And we compound that dismissiveness, as a society, by not offering great pay or medical benefits to sanitation or construction workers, whose jobs almost always have a great impact on their health and quality of life down the road.

      1. pleaset*

        In my city, public sanitation workers (DSNY) are decently compensated.

        Private sanitation workers are not, and their jobs are far more dangerous.

  41. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    You’re C-level. Get out of there. Seriously. This reflects badly upon you as well, I don’t care if it’s one dude in one office. If someone sees it, it taints the whole place.

    They’re clinging to their “our clients are white and conservative so it’s all good” nonsense, so really, don’t waste your time and burn bridges here. Just go quietly into the night to somewhere you’re going to be able to work with the diversity you want.

    1. Kimmybear*

      This. Get out before your company’s reputation becomes something you don’t want to associate with. You don’t want them to be the last place on your resume when there is a backlash/lawsuit.

  42. TootsNYC*

    Having been raised by a silverware-rattling Democrat and liberal, I find myself in an oddly conservative position on these flags with blue stripes, etc.

    The flag is our nation’s symbol. Nobody should be altering it to promote one interest group over the other. It is a symbol of our unity, and nobody should be dicking with it like that. Nobody should be claiming it as theirs, and altering it in a way that makes it “theirs alone.”

    It is incredibly disrespectful. It is selfish. And it destroys our unity.

    To protest in a way that’s linked to the flag (modifying how you honor it by kneeling instead of standing; even by burning it) isn’t nearly as disrespectful as modifying it is.
    When someone kneels to honor the flag, it doesn’t destroy the unity of that symbol. It makes a comment on it, but it treats the country as one, and in fact emphasizes the unity that it is supposed to stand for.

    I find myself irrationally angry over this sort of modification.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Not saying it should be illegal, but it should be condemned as incredibly un-American. And un-patriotic.

      To take the symbol of our country and reclaim it as yours and yours alone.

      I feel like those old guys in the 1960s who got angry over hippies sewing a flag patch to the butt of their jeans.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Yeah, I’m the same way.

      This is why I like the Pride flags. They’re all just their own symbols. It’s not overtaking the US flag and making it into something that it’s not about. It’s not about any one group of people.

    3. ClashRunner*

      Me too! Thank you for writing so eloquently what I struggle to say about my own feelings on the topic.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I have a lot of strong feelings on this.

        I get pissed off when people say that “disrespecting the flag is disrespecting the military.”

        It’s not the military’s flag. It’s the COUNTRY’S.
        And in fact, the military salutes the flag because it is NOT the symbol of the military.

        (One doesn’t toast oneself (“to me” or “to us”), though you might raise your glass AFTER the toast, to symbolically return the toast to those who toast you; the Queen of England doesn’t stand and sing “God Save the Queen,” because that would be “God save me”; the U.S. president shouldn’t sing “Hail to the Chief”)

        It’s our flag, not the army’s, etc.

        1. Liz T*

          Thank you. I hate that everyone accepted the logical gymnastics of “reaction to US flag = reaction to those employed by US military.”

        2. 1LFTW*

          Thank you.

          It drives me crazy patriotism is equated with militarism. As you say, the reason why actual members of the actual military salute the flag is because it represents all of us.

    4. Dahlia*

      Yeah, as a non-american and queer person, I’m going to disagree on the US flag being inherantly special.

      1. LilySparrow*

        It’s not that it’s inherently special compared to the flags of other nations. It’s that its meaning, purpose, and proper treatment are officially codified and specified.

        The same political wing that most frequently promotes these blue-lives flags, or goes into screaming fits about kneeling rather than standing, is claiming to promote respect for the flag as a symbol of patriotism.

        But it’s all hypocrisy, because they are ignoring the actual rules and meaning. If they really cared about respecting the flag, there is a specific, official way to show that respect. Which they ignore.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I didn’t use the word “special” anywhere. I talked about it as a specific symbol meaning a specific thing.

        LilySparrow phrased it well, I think.

      3. 1LFTW*

        You’re right, it absolutely is not. FWIW, I don’t think anyone here is arguing otherwise.

        I’m sure other countries have their own codes that govern how the flag is supposed to be treated; for example, maybe it’s not supposed to be allowed to touch the ground, or perhaps it’s not supposed to be flown in the rain, or which is the hoist side, or what it means when it’s flown upside down (fun fact: in the US, flying the flag upside down is supposed to be a distress signal). In the US, these codes indicate what sort of modifications are considered appropriate, and in the US, pretty much none of them are.

        However, there *are* people who think that the US flag is More Special Than Others. What we’re remarking on here is how so many of these people, who claim to Love The Flag ™, don’t seem to love it enough to actually go look up the codes that govern its display and handling.

  43. Justin*

    Hoo boy, this is a fun place to work.

    You seem to have power. Push it. PUSH IT. Or accept that making These Folks comfortable is more important to your company than actual kindness.

    1. Justin*

      Oh wait, you’ve already been stripped of power?

      GTFO. You can’t fix them. Really, you can’t. They don’t want to change. If you’re stuck financially, fair. But you can’t change them. They like it that way. And they like upsetting you, too.

  44. De Minimis*

    On my way to work each morning I walk past a law firm that has a Blue Lives Matter flag up in their parking lot, and it always gives me pause. It seems like an odd message to send. Finally spurred me to look them up though, and they specialize in employment law for public service employees [and also criminal defense for same] so that makes more sense. Gotta wonder though how many potential clients might be turned off by that flag.

    Hope things work out for the LW, it sounds like a tough environment that probably won’t improve.

    1. AuroraLight37*

      As a potential client, I’d want to know about this bias, especially if I found myself needing a lawyer due to police misconduct or harassment. Maybe not all lawyers at that firm would be prejudiced in favor of the person/department I’d be suing, but the fact that the flag is there tells me upfront I’d be better off looking elsewhere.

  45. sfigato*

    Just here to say that making “conservative” mean “all cis white dudes” is a choice management is making.

  46. Oxford Comma*

    I almost never advocate changing jobs, so keep that in mind as I say, I think it may be time to look for a new position.

    They’ve stripped you of most of your managerial responsibilities. You’ve seen a marked shift to an primarily male managerial team and it sounds like your organization has never been diverse to begin with. They’re not going to change and it’s probably only going to get worse from here on in.

  47. StaceyIzMe*

    In your shoes, I’d be looking for a strategic opportunity to take an inevitable misstep and augment the pain. This is an approach that you can engage in serially and on an open-ended basis. Without explicitly obstructing the office culture, you can call attention to gaps in how things are done and take advantage of public, media driven opportunities to highlight the lack of diversity, lack of inclusion and overall lack of awareness by the organization. You can either do it as a whistleblower via social media and contacts to the media in your area or you can look for allies within your organization and within your key clients to bring the point home. It might be worth it, morally, to campaign for change via this kind of guerrilla exercise. (Simultaneously, you might start checking for other opportunities. It doesn’t speak well of them that they’re fine with an all male leadership and that they excuse it.) Highlight what you can, amplify the message where you can, augment the pain when you can and prepare to move on, because they will in all likelihood try to manage you out, and they may succeed. If there are other opportunities via the management team that was fired to explore legal action or to use media to make things more uncomfortable for the company, those options might also be worth exploring. It’s unlikely that these former managers were all fired for cause, unless there’s an unusually toxic culture where you work and it simply wears different faces depending on who is in charge. Sorry to hear that this is the situation that you are facing, it sounds discouraging!

  48. The IT Plebe*

    Talk about burying the lede — the BlueLM flag on display is the least worrying aspect of this company, based on what you’ve told us. Systematically shutting out women/PoC employees, stripping you of managerial tasks for reasons unrelated to performance, etc…this is a symptom of a much larger problem. This is not a hill worth dying on — polish your resume and run.

  49. Bulldog*

    I find it telling that neither the OP nor any of the commentators so far had a problem with previous management being “all” (not mostly or predominantly) women. Sounds like OP is a better fit for this company than she is willing to admit.

    1. fposte*

      I don’t agree with your underlying assumption–that a female-led company has the same kind of hegemonic power as a male-lead company–but more practically, it’s pretty clear from how they’re treating the OP that she’s not a fit for this company.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Not really. It sounds like she might have been a good fit at 0ne point but that she and the company are moving apart as it drifts right.

    3. VintageLydia*

      And if you actually read the OP you’d know that it’s more than just the lack of gender diversity that’s the issue. Having a mostly female management team but otherwise diverse workforce vs having a totally hegemonic workforce from top to bottom PLUS actively racist hiring practices are two entirely different things.

    4. Llellayena*

      Being all women or all men is not inherently bad in itself. It’s when there is an active effort to leave out the other group that things become a problem. There is no indication that when the company was “all women” leadership that they actively avoided hiring or promoting men, but there is that implication with the new management (where it’s all men and no women) because of the “making clients comfortable” attitude.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yup. When it *just so happens* that all the women in authority and POC are getting the boot, it’s a sign.

    5. Blueberry*

      Because women have always had and currently do have the same power in US society as men do, of course.

    6. Witchy Human*

      And the Strawman of the Day award goes to…

      This place has less than 100 employees–that probably means 5-6 people at the highest levels. We’re not talking about an improbably number that could only be reached via discrimination against men.

      And there’s no indication that they were only interested in hiring or prom0ting people of only their own demographic across every level of the entire organization. So no, I don’t think the previous management can be compared to the current one.

  50. Dust Bunny*

    I have some hobbies in which left-leaners, women, and minorities are all underrepresented and I would bet good money that your company isn’t blindly walking into anything (they’re just not brazen enough to say so outright). Everyone I know in these circles keenly aware of inequality, it’s just that, while you and I are concerned that not enough is done to address it, they’re mad that people want to take it away from them. They don’t say that in front of you until they’re really comfortable with you, though.

    Your workplace is not unaware that its mostly white, cis, and hetero, and that its management is mostly male. This is all voluntary.

  51. blackcat*

    I am less concerned about the Blue Lives Matter flag than the fact that there are enough red flags for a communist parade.
    RUN.

  52. MissGirl*

    So many OPs write in about a single problem but then when the details come out, you realize that problem is a small blip compared to the rest. It’s like complaining about the office smell when it turns out the CEO is burying bodies in the basement.

    I don’t know if the one problem is easier to face on its own, if it’s the straw that broke their back, or if they’re not ready to face the big problem. Facing the big problem may require an OP to make changes they’re not ready to make it face a harsh truth.

    OP, this company has stated its values. Do they still line up with yours?

    1. VintageLydia*

      Honestly it’s probably because that small issue is the one they feel the most power in changing.

  53. QCI*

    Reminds me of a picture of a companies staff that was 20-30 women, all blond, all mid 30 and younger, and the 4 highest positions in the company were white men.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        I’ve never seen a dentist office that wasn’t all 100% women behind the front counter and hygenists and the dentists were 100% men. I’ve only ever heard of ONE female dentist ever.

        1. QCI*

          I’ve had plenty of female hygienists, one female dentist. But even when it’s as you describe, the age and diversity of the woman is still “within norms” of my area (Bible belt TN)

          I also don’t go to the dentist as much as I should, so small sample size.

          1. Quill*

            Both my dentist and my orthodontist from childhood were guys, but most of the hygenists had kids my age, or close to it.

            Now, depending on when I manage to get in, I’m just as likely to get my childhood dentist or his (female) partner, and the hygenists keep asking me about the best way for their kids to find the right college.

        2. The Original K.*

          My dentist and her staff are all women. (I’ve had three dentists in my life; the other two were men.) I believe my brother’s dentist is also a woman.

        3. blackcat*

          Huh. I have somehow managed to only see female dentists as an adult. And 2/3 were/are women of color.

          So… I’ve got three for you!

    1. Quill*

      If you don’t have at least a few hygenists who are middle aged, the dentist office is not going to last, period.

  54. Fabulous*

    As someone married to a police office, I don’t think the flag itself is inherently bad, although I do understand its controversial relevance in the BLM movement. I constantly think twice when I see a Blue Line bumper sticker on someone’s car (are they supporting because of blue family or because they’re racists?)

    I’m hoping that the president just has police officers in their family that they want to support; though, the prominent flag display does seem like it may be just a part of more polarizing changes within the organization. Hopefully it doesn’t become political, but it probably already has…

    Bravo to the OP for recognizing this and trying to keep diversity in the forefront.

    I don’t know that they should necessarily run from the organization, but I’d keep your eyes open for other more alarming changes.

  55. Person from the Resume*

    People in power need to stand up for what’s right. (That simple sentence lacks nuisance but in general, yeah.) That said, it does not seem like the LW is in power. The LW has lost power and is likely on the chopping block. People who aren’t conservative, CIS, white, and male are being fired. I don’t know about the rest but the LW is definitely not conservative enough for this company.

    My recommendation is to start job hunting now. Saying anything will only accelerate the LW being fired and she needs to pay her rent. I don’t think there’s anything she can say to make this group change their minds.

  56. Not a Blossom*

    Get out, get out, get out. A company that “somehow” manages to make its upper levels all men and fire its black employees AND that thinks it’s important for most people in the company to be white and male is a shit show. Fun fact: There are different kinds of conservative, and the kind that values white race and male sex is not the kind with which you want to be affiliated. It is the kind, however, to potentially end up mired in scandal.

    Get out as soon as you can, and then on your way (once you have accepted another position and are assured you can leave), you can consider making a comment. Otherwise, given everything you’ve said, I think it’s best to keep your head down and look for a new position.

  57. Nicki Name*

    “While I don’t have proof that we actively discriminate in the hiring and promotion process”

    But I think they pretty much admitted it here:

    “When I have brought up issues of diversity and inclusion in the past, I have been told that our clients are overwhelmingly white and conservative, and we need to make them comfortable”

    Run away, and work on your statement for when this company is sued for discrimination.

  58. Classroom Diva*

    I’m just wondering…would people be so upset if the company president had a “black lives matter” or a rainbow flag up?

    Why is it that tolerance seems to go only one way and only toward a particular viewpoint? Tolerance actually means that you can get along with people with whom you disagree. That means that–throughout history–those who end up being the least intolerant were, without question, sure that they were *right.* They weren’t being intolerant because they thought they were wrong!

    So, the fact that so many people think conservatives are *wrong* and their interpretation of this flag is *wrong* is really beside the point. Those conservatives would equally think that displaying a rainbow flag or a black lives matter flag was *wrong* and intolerant and would have their own reasons for thinking so (that often have *nothing* whatsoever to do with being anti-gay or racist, btw).

    Just because you believe with all your heart that you are right, doesn’t give you the right to interpret a symbol *for* someone else who sees it differently or who thinks differently than you do. Tolerance means allowing them to believe what they believe and accept their definition of what the symbol means to them.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      We don’t live in a cultural vacuum, and there’s such a thing as historical context. Every opinion shouldn’t carry equal weight to every other opinion, and there shouldn’t always be two equally valid “sides” to every issue. Does that mean that we shouldn’t be open to hearing others’ opinions or experiences, or that there isn’t nuance to issues? No. But the whole idea of every single opinion or feeling, no matter how damaging or baseless it is, needing an equal platform, is bunk.

    2. Sharkie*

      While I agree with you on some aspects of what you are saying there is a lot more going on than the flag. They have stripped Women of Leadership positions, they have fired all but one POC, when OP has brought up the diversity and inclusion issues in the past they were told that they need to keep their white clients comfortable. In this context having that flag is highly questionable.

    3. QCI*

      If the company was only hiring LGBT or only POC and then claimed to be diverse and inclusive, while displaying symbols of exclusivity, then you could make the same argument about them. Google had/has a similar problem with it’s hyper diverse employment practices appearing to be pushing out Cis white males.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        hahahhahahahaaaaa Google?! You mean that place that managed to increase its tech women hires from 24.6% to 25.7%? Who’s managed to increase its total female hires from 31.3% to 33.2% ? Who’s increased its black hires to a whopping 4.8%, and its Latinx hires to a whole 6.8%? (2018 US college graduates – 13% are Latinx). That Google?

        Cis white men are very much still the dominant group at Google and their dominance is not under threat, no matter what manifesto one ignoramus wrote.

        (All numbers from Google’s 2019 Diversity Report)

        Someone asked what we can do about this: for tech cos like Google and Facebook:
        1) We can encourage women and PoC to go into STEM fields. I tell every Parent of Color that I meet about the free residential magnet school in my state, and about high school internships at local tech companies.
        2) We can push for better public education, including universal pre-k and ending the school to prison pipeline.
        3) We can ask companies to partner with Historical Black Colleges (HBCUs) for hiring, and ask our companies why they don’t have booths at HBCU job fairs (if they don’t).
        4) We can push for cheaper college – state spending on higher ed has dropped significantly over the last 30 years, we could at least take it back to 1980s levels!

        For specialized fields, the key is to overcome the structural barriers keeping women and PoC out of those fields, barriers that start in pre-k.

        1. Ico*

          Yeah, you left out some particular numbers there. From the same report, Google’s US tech workforce is 45.1% Asian and 51.1% white. Wikipedia has the most recent census putting the country as 4.8% Asian and 72.4% white. The CEO is Indian. The assertion that “cis white men are very much still the dominant group” is gutted by the same data you pointed at while glossing over the inconvenient parts.

          1. Anon for this*

            For whatever reason, this particular industry happens to be heavily Asian. It is the height of intellectual dishonesty to say it doesn’t matter that the company is 4.8% black and 6.8% Latinx, because “the CEO is Indian and that’s diverse enough”.

            1. Ico*

              No one said that, here at least. The claim was that that company is dominated by white men. That’s objectively false, and Jules hand waved over the numbers that show that.

    4. LawBee*

      But he doesn’t have those flags up. He has a flag that has a clear and well-documented racist connotation and reputation, hanging in the office of a company that is systemically letting go of POC and women employees. Your hypothetical isn’t reflective of the situation, so it’s not a true comparison.

    5. Savannnah*

      No. This is a false equivalence. Do not call for tolerance when one side is being killed and the other is at best, uncomfortable.

        1. Blueberry*

          How much safer does it make police offers to give them carte blanche to abuse Black people and shoot unarmed Black people?

        2. Diahann Carroll*

          As stated above, police officers do not in any way shape or form have the most dangerous job in this country – look at the stats that you all love to cling to so much. Again, unarmed black people are more likely to be murderer than cops, so stop it.

        3. savannnah*

          I am talking about people who support Blue Lives Matter- not police officers, who by the way can take off their uniforms and are not required to be police officers in the first place. Black people do not have that option.

        4. Nephron*

          We have spent decades outlawing types of bullets, increasing training, providing military hardware, and increasing sentences for crimes against cops and the result has been a massive decline in police deaths.

          No one is saying cops should be shot, but blue lives matter is doing nothing to improve the situation for cops. It is actually making things worse because when blue lives matter is used a a retort to black lives matter you are telling people they can either support unarmed citizens of color, or the cops.

        5. Lavender Menace*

          You are, if you are imagining that they are in any way proportionate to the number of people who get shot by the police.

    6. Blueberry*

      This comment is a textbook case of false equivalence. A flag supporting an oppressed minority is not at all the same as a flag promoting the power of a powerful group and supporting their mistreatment of an oppressed minority. A rainbow flag says LGBTQ people are welcome; a Black Lives Matter flag says that Black people are as human as White people; a Blue Lives Matter flag says that police violence against Black people is to be condoned and promoted because Black people deserve that violence. These are not equivalent statements. Nothing in a LGBTQ flag does or even can attack straight people; saying Black Lives Matter is not a comment against the valid humanity of any other group; but the Blue Lives Matter flag is a direct pushback against the valid humanity of Black People.

      Those conservatives would equally think that displaying a rainbow flag or a black lives matter flag was *wrong* and intolerant and would have their own reasons for thinking so (that often have *nothing* whatsoever to do with being anti-gay or racist, btw).

      This is flat out impossible. There is no reason to think a rainbow flag is intolerant that isn’t about thinking lgbtq people are terrible and should be suppressed instead of allowed to be themselves in public. As I said above, nothing about a rainbow flag attacks straight people, and there is no structural way for LGBTQ people to ban straight people from adoption, beat people in the streets for being straight, fire people for being straight, and so on and so forth. Same with the Black Lives Matter flag and White people.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        You said this much more eloquently than I was about to. People kill me with this willful false equivalence bullshit.

      2. AMT*

        Exactly. I’ll add that conservatives don’t find rainbow/BLM flags uncomfortable because they’re afraid of being shot, beaten up, or fired for being straight or white (in the same way that a black or gay person might feel threatened if they saw a Blue Lives Matter or anti-gay sign in the workplace). The two simply do not present the same threat level to each group.

    7. Jay*

      Intent does not equal impact. “What the symbol means to them” is intent. The fact that I feel unsafe when I see it is impact. Those of us who hold privilege have a responsibility to understand the impact of our behavior on people with less privilege. This is a group of white men. Their intent – whatever it is – doesn’t mitigate the impact of the flag. I would not want my biracial daughter working in a company where that flag is displayed prominently because I would fear for her safety.

      And, for the record, “white privilege” doesn’t mean white people didn’t have hard lives. It means that our skin color isn’t one of the things making our lives harder.

      “Tolerance” is not my goal. “Tolerance” is weak-minded wiggle-speak along the lines of “there are fine people on both sides.” My goal is inclusion, full stop.

    8. Justin*

      Oh my lord, not the “the real bigots are the marginalized people pushing back” argument (with different words).

    9. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m going to leave this up because the responses to it are valuable for others to see, but I’m not going to accept a false equivalence here between protecting marginalized groups and racism.

    10. Kaitlyn*

      Okay, I’ll take this bait: because the Black Lives Matter flag and the Pride flag are both symbols that lift up oppressed groups, and that promote inclusion and fairness. The Blue Lives Matter flag, which was created in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, does not lift up an oppressed group: police officers have plenty of leeway in their personal and professional lives, and policing and legal-systems work is often deeply rooted in maintaining and sustaining racist (and trans-/homophobic) society. Even good, considerate cops have pledged to uphold laws that are/can be seen as racist (see also: ACAB).

      On a wider scale, “tolerance” should not be understood to mean that all viewpoints are equally good and valid, and that “live and let live” is good enough; truly inclusive and non-oppressive societies do their best to root out and destroy intolerant behaviours, including those that are framed as non-political personal choice or preference.

    11. rlovvo*

      This is totally spot on. Even AAM believes that having the Blue Lives matter is due to “not understanding” that it is racist or “willful blindness” to racist policing. Why must all conservatism be intolerant, while intolerance from special groups are tolerated? I’m old, and use the “OK” thumb and forefinger all the time – and now I’m a racist for that, too. Sigh.

      I do believe the company should be more diverse, and agree with many of the comments here. The company does have a lot of warning signs and the OP will hopefully find a better place. But, please, don’t base it on everyone who shows the Blue Lives Matter sign as living proof of their racism.

      1. fposte*

        Speaking as another Old who grew up with the OK sign–because it doesn’t cost me anything to quit making it, and I think racism is bad enough that I’d like not to contribute to it, regardless of my intent or thoughtless habits.

      2. Kaitlyn*

        I’m sorry, but can you tell me what “intolerance from a special group being tolerated” actually looks like to you?

      3. Nom the Plumage*

        Is it not possible for you to stop using that signal? We might be old, but we can still learn new things.

      4. Blueberry*

        Ooo, “intolerance from special groups”. Please tell us how LGBTQ people have actively oppressed you by existing. Am I oppressing you right now by daring to disagree with you while being a Black woman? Would you rather I knew what you think should be my place? Are my questions equivalent to the last time a neighbor came over to see if I belonged in my house while I was opening the door? Or when someone accused me of stealing from the office where I was the only Black employee?

      5. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

        I find it very telling that you blame progressives for “making” the OK sign racist, and not the actual white supremacists who decided to start using the OK sign as a racist symbol.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Exactly. It’s the same “the real racists are the minorities complaining” comment that started this thread. God, these people are exhausting and laughable.

      6. Jamie*

        I am also old, and while I can’t recall ever making that sign I wouldn’t if the urge struck because I am old enough to understand that language changes. There are a lot of things that were seen as okay back in the day that aren’t now and I think the shift toward being more careful with our language is a good thing.

      7. Jessie the First (or second)*

        I’m old too, and used to use the OK sign as a kid.

        And now I don’t, because the sign has been co-opted by horribly racist groups and I do not in any way want to give any sign that I support those racist groups, and I do not want to inadvertently send anyone a hateful message. Racist people co-opted the sign – blame them, not the people who saw that it was co-opted and don’t like the sign as a result.

        And it has honestly not been a burden for me to not make the OK sign. Seriously. Life has a lot of burden and trouble in it, but this has managed to be not even a minor problem or inconvenience.

      8. Johnny Tarr*

        You’re not a racist because the “OK” sign has been co-opted by white supremacists. You’re exhibiting racist behavior when you argue that dismantling racism is troublesome and annoying to you, a white person. I’m arguably old and definitely white, and I get invisible benefits all the time because of my skin color. Because I benefit unfairly from racism, it is my responsibility to do everything in my power to reform racist systems. Sighing and moaning that I don’t want to do that would be racist of me.

      9. Shan*

        Okay, I’m going to chime in as a somewhat-Old who is also pretty annoyed about the whole OK sign thing… why on earth are you blaming that on anyone but the white supremacists who co-opted it? The fact I’ve had to train myself out of flashing an OK sign to a waiter who asks me mid-bite how my food is isn’t the fault of progressives, and I’m amazed at the mental gymnastics it takes to imply that it is.

      10. aebhel*

        I don’t know, why ARE conservatives intolerant? Why do they refuse to learn about the history of ‘Blue Lives Matter’ and insist that their ignorance be respected as an alternate viewpoint?

        What special groups are being intolerant? What does their intolerance look like? Because ‘I expect you to respect me as an equal’ is not an intolerant demand.

      11. MOAS*

        You and OP of this sub-thread seem like the kind of person that argues it’s ok for you to say the “N” word because it’s in a song and you’re “just singing along.”

      12. Liz T*

        That’s your biggest grievance? Your loss of the beloved OK sign? And you think that’s remotely comparable to being shot by police with impunity because of your race?

        Christ. A thumbs-up is clearer and easier anyway!

    12. Queer Earthling*

      “would people be so upset if the company president had a “black lives matter” or a rainbow flag up?”

      Black Lives Matter = “please stop targeting and killing black people.”
      Rainbow flag = “I’m gay or I support gay rights.”
      Blue Lives Matter = racist symbol used by people who are actively in favor of police shooting black people

      There is a difference.

      It’s like misguided centrists telling people to be tolerant of neo-nazis. No. There’s a difference of opinion, and then there are people actively calling for the extermination of other people. You do not need to be tolerant of people who actively want you dead.

      1. Quill*

        You can’t compromise when someone wants you murdered, because being not murdered is a human decency baseline.

    13. aebhel*

      Okay, uh…. what exactly is intolerant about displaying a rainbow flag? I’d love an explanation there that doesn’t have anything to do with homophobia, because in 34 years of being queer I’ve never heard it.

      1. CheeryO*

        Intolerant of their religious beliefs, I would guess. Because, you know, people are being gay AT you and not just trying to live normal, happy lives.

        1. Quill*

          Just because you believe you have the right to descriminate doesn’t make it a protected religious belief.

      2. MayLou*

        I have encountered the argument that the rainbow used to be a symbol of Christianity (and presumably other Abrahamic religions, although they’ve never been mentioned) because it was God’s sign of a promise to humanity after the great flood, and THOSE QUEERS have STOLEN it from GOD. Obviously I think that argument is garbage, but it is maybe an example of a not-explicitly-homophobic-if-you-really-squint view about rainbow flags. (For the record, I identify as queer AND Christian, which confuses the heck out of the sort of people who make this kind of argument.)

    14. NW Mossy*

      Symbols are by definition a means of communication – they present a thought, idea, or belief. Without getting too philosophical about it, if a symbol is sent but no one receives it, does it symbolize anything?

      Flowing from that, we can’t (and shouldn’t) separate symbols from the intent of the sender. The intent may inform the receiver’s interpretation of the symbol, but symbols and intent in their use are inextricably bound together.

      In this specific situation, the symbol in question (a Blue Lives Matter flag) is a reinforcing symbol rather than a discordant one. Its use aligns with the behaviors and actions the OP has observed from the company’s leadership. Taken together, they tell a consistent story that this company does not share the OP’s values.

    15. smoke tree*

      Here’s the thing–it doesn’t do conservatives any favours to align them with this kind of bigotry. I can get along perfectly well with people I disagree with politically, but denying people basic rights, respect and dignity isn’t a political issue, it’s a moral one.

  59. ArtK*

    Add me to the chorus: Run, run away! They’ve decided that making bigots “comfortable” is more important than dealing with a race/gender discrimination hiring suit. Given the response to your raising diversity issues before, they’re going to run you out the door if you dare to speak up again. Be proactive and run yourself.

  60. HarvestKaleSlaw*

    Hi OP, I think people are right about your organization and you being pushed out. I think one more thing needs to be said, and it’s important: You do not work with good people.

    It is important to know this, because your brain doesn’t like hard, scary, depressing truths and will lie to you. It will lie to you and tell you they won’t fire you, they can change, that you can change things, that there’s another explanation. You will be sitting there, having a perfectly normal conversation with Gary, who’s a friendly, regular guy with sweet kids he really loves — and even if you’re sitting under a hate symbol on Gary’s wall and he just said he fired all the black people to make your clients comfortable – your brain is going to look at his relaxed posture and his smile, and your brain is going to say to you, “But he’s a nice guy. There has to be a mistake. I can fix this.”

    Your brain is wrong. Gary is not a good person. He’s a bad person. Don’t hope for good things from bad people.

    1. AMT*

      Totally agree. It’s very easy to confuse “nice to me” or “generally polite and reasonable” with “doesn’t use his resources to to promote violent, racist causes and remove women and POC from power in his organization.”

  61. Oaktree*

    If it were me, I’d dust off your resume and start interviewing ASAP. Others have already pointed out that you’re most likely being eased out, because you’re not toeing the party line (which, for the record, sounds like it’s pretty racist and misogynist). Secure a new job, and then tell them exactly why you’re leaving when you go: it’s because they prioritize the comfort of white conservatives over the lives of Black people, and that seems to you like it’s neither ethical nor good business practices.

  62. Stephanie*

    I work at one of the Big 3 automakers and grab coffee near the commercial and government fleet sales people. One of the employees there has the Blue Lives Matter flag displayed with the police vehicle logo and it always makes a tad uncomfortable (I’m black, if it’s not obvious from my Gravatar). It definitely can make non-white employees uncomfortable

    But it sounds like your hands might be tied here. It may be time to move on.

  63. AmazingGrace*

    I am commenting because I am a minority and maybe my opinion can help you. Have you tried asking the one or two minority employees how they feel? You can’t automatically assume that because they’re black or brown that they blue lives matter flag is offensive to them. I am black and have family members that display this flag. I also know blacks that do not like black lives matter. So my suggestion to you is that before you reach out to your HR manager you should at least pay some respect to your fellow colleagues and ask them if this bothers them. If you don’t have a relationship with them, then maybe you should do that first. I personally do not want a white person speaking on my behalf, especially if they don’t even know me. Not because of racism, but because its rude to assume that just because I’m a certain color that it means I lean a certain way or have a particular mind set. Don’t take offense to this by the way. I find it nice that you care, but please note that you might be putting your black coworkers in an uncomfortable position that they never asked you to put them in. My 2 cents! Good luck my friend.

    1. Blueberry*

      On the one hand you have a very good point that no one can speak for the Black employee but the employee, and that no group has a monolithic view of anything. I also know Black people who don’t support Black Lives Matter for various reasons, and Black people who are family of police officers.

      On the other, I often find that the people in that last group are content to have their family members gain the power police officers wield and don’t care if that means crushing the rest of Black people. Or to say it differently, there are also many women who think #metoo is a pack of lies and that women falsely accuse men of sexual assault all the time, and I disagree with those women too.

      1. AmazingGrace*

        I still believe that this person should at least ask his colleagues how they feel. He may be putting a spotlight on them that they don’t want, don’t need and haven’t asked for. It might make them feel targeted and uneasy while he’s happy and can sleep at night thinking he just did something righteous. Does he even know them? I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t know them at all or knew anything about them. By the way, (and this is for everybody) not all blacks are non-conservative.

      2. fposte*

        I also think that it’s not just about the employees who are currently there–it’s about prospective employees and prospective clients. The sign is a problem for enough people that there’s a pretty high likelihood of its being a problem for somebody who comes to that workplace. They should be aiming for a higher bar than “fine with a couple people.”

    2. Purl*

      You mean she should ask the one black co-worker still there after others were let go? And if that last person is let go will it then be ok to have the flag because there is no employee who is black or brown to object or be uncomfortable?

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        And expect that that single remaining black employee is going to feel safe enough to express discomfort?

        It’s a good thing to ask in general, but the overall racism at the company means OP’s not likely to get a real answer.

    3. Ashley*

      I got the impression that there aren’t any Black people or POC at the OP’s job. That’s part of his point. Also I am a Black woman and if I worked in that office I wouldn’t be comfortable telling a White employee that I don’t like the Blue Lives Matter flag that the president has displayed in his office.

      1. fposte*

        And you might already know that your colleague, the OP, is getting frozen out for raising diversity issues. The scales are *very* uneven on this one.

        1. AuroraLight37*

          And the OP was in senior management when they pushed back and got demoted. If I were the sole remaining POC who is also lower on the org chart, I would be very, very hesitant to say a word, even to a supporter. (I’d also be job hunting like nobody’s business.)

    4. MicrobioChic*

      Personally, I don’t think the OP should bring up the (one remaining) black employee when discussing the flag under any circumstances.

      Even if they agree with OP about the flag, presumably John in accounting or whomever also has bills they need to pay next month and bringing them into it could open them up to retaliation.

      I don’t think the OP is trying to speak on their behalf, OP is more concerned about the larger message the flag sends to the community at large and is trying to push back in one small way against a company culture that is a racist sexist mess. But I do agree that the OP should be careful not to imply they are speaking for the one black employee.

    5. Lavender Menace*

      Why does that matter? As you mentioned, we are not a monolith, and every black person is going to have a different feeling. But we can’t deny that the Blue Lives Matter movement was created in opposition to Black Lives Matter to support police officers who are accused of violence against black people. Regardless of what individual (and IMO, misguided) black people think about it, the movement has never been covert about the reason for its existence.

      I want white people speaking on my behalf in the places in which I am not allowed or welcomed. That’s allyship.

  64. Employment Lawyer*

    It sounds like they’re probably discriminating illegally–you can do something about that.

    If you google “yourstate NELA” (national employment lawyers association) or “yourstate employment lawyers association” (most states have their own chapter) then you will find groups of plaintiff’s employment lawyers, who specialize in representing employees. I am one of those, in my state of Mass.

    An initial phone call is generally free and it sounds like you may well have a discrimination claim here, as well as other claims. The interaction of state and federal law is too complex to analyze on the internet. This may be valuable and is probably worth a call, especially if you think they’ll ding you for bad references when you leave.

    If you’re not willing to talk to a lawyer (though you should) then you should leave.

    Political discrimination is not illegal. Supporting Blue Lives Matter or All Lives Matter is obviously seen as racist by some folks. But of course, supporting BLM and/or opposing All Lives Matter is seen as cop-bashing or white-bashing by other folks. You’re sure that you are on the “right” side; so are they. And just as you’re entitled to run a company with progressive values, and cover your door with BLM stickers, they’re allowed to do the same in reverse. Just as your hypothetical company could demote people who argued against BLM, they’re allowed to do the reverse, and so on.

    1. Blueberry*

      The legal advice you have brought to this thread is very useful, but ethics are not (and shouldn’t be) identical to laws.

      I think most people who are politically liberal — who support Black Lives Matter, who support LGBTQ rights, who support women’s rights to be treated legally and socially as full human beings , among other stances — know full well that the people who oppose us think they are right, too. Many of us have been told so, to our faces; we’ve been told that the woman’s place is in the home, not employment, that ‘sluts’ who do or don’t do any manner of things deserve sexual assault, that the police are so uncontrollably frightened by Black people that they must be allowed to treat us as they will without restraint or oversight, that LGBTQ people are necessarily child molesters and evildoers who are going to Hell. I think we know really well that the people on the other sides of these issues believe they are right just as strongly as we do.

      I think we just refuse to compromise on the truth that we are also full human beings, is all.

      So it’s not illegal to plaster a workplace with Blue Lives Matter signs and to raise money for efforts to “protect children from deviants and ensure that God’s plan for marriage is upheld” and so on. But that doesn’t mean these aren’t legitimate grounds to judge a company’s ethics. God knows plenty of people like to proudly state how they’d never do business with a company run by women or which “promotes the gay agenda”.

  65. Iris Eyes*

    IF these were reasonable people I would probably phrase it as “Of course police work is valuable and we want to support those that keep us safe (etc.) but this specific symbol is seen by many in over policed populations as putting police lives above the people they are supposed to be protecting and serving. Here are some other ways we can more meaningfully support our local officers while not alienating those who see this specific symbol as a symbol of threat instead of a symbol of safety.”

  66. ???????????*

    Serious question – would you have the same reaction if it was a Black Lives Matter flag or another flag of another movement not left of center? Say #MeToo for example (a movement very personal to me)?
    Or signs in Disagreement of the current administration? Seriously – don’t answer until you have really thought about it.

    I work in the Diversity industry, and this situation comes up often. People struggle with Diversity of Thought because it includes people that don’t agree with you politically, and people have issues with people who don’t agree with them politically. Ive had situations where someone finds out that a coworker, that they have worked with well for years, finds out that they lean the other way politically, and now refuse to work with them. That isn’t realistic or professional. We as an organization cannot only employee a certain political or religious leaning. In fact if we did, we would be violating the law. The EEOC doesn’t just protect people whose political leanings lean in one direction.

    In this case, the OP doesn’t agree with the culture, so this is a situation where you are no longer a good fit for the organization. Leaving was the right thing to do, and I would have most likely done the same.

    I would like to recommend a book to everyone, and if you have a chance to see the author give a talk on the subject, i HIGHLY suggest it. The book is called “We Can’t Talk About That at Work” by Mary Frances Winters.

    Finally – I changed my username because I didn’t want to get bashed or otherwise retaliated against for asking a question that should be asked. I comment often on this board under my normal user name, and I would like to continue to do so.

    1. Justin*

      …and this is why, as a person of color, I find the diversity industry mostly exists to make people in comfortable feel better about themselves.

      Equity is the real goal, diversity of thought amongst a group of exclusively cis white people is meaningless.

    2. Spargle*

      This company:
      – fired all but a couple of its POC employees
      – replaced all of its leadership team with men
      – doesn’t care that its actions make it seem to be racist/sexist in the public, as long as its clients are happy
      – has a president who happily hangs a sign in his office that is known to have racist connotations

      You’re bringing in a lot in your comment that isn’t in the situation. “I am uncomfortable with your choice of romantic partners” or “I don’t like knowing that you are part of the #MeToo movement” is not the same thing as hanging a racist sign.

      1. Us, too*

        Yeah, I kind of figure that the sign, itself, is probably not nearly as problematic as what is obviously happening internally and leading to it. i.e. racists, sexists, etc running the company and using illegal practices in doing so.

    3. Us, too*

      I think the issue here isn’t the flag, per se, but its being representative of other (actually illegal) discriminatory hiring practices and workplace conditions that are (illegally) hostile.

    4. Blueberry*

      “agree with you politically” is not the point. If someone thinks I deserve to be abused because of who I am, whether they be a man pushing back against the idea that he has no right to molest me or a White person upset at the thought that the police might be required to not beat me up for being Black, or a homophobe who thinks I should be prevented from working with children because I’m queer, I think I have a right to disagree with them rather than being shut up for the sake of a fictional peace. This isn’t about politics, it’s about people’s lives.

    5. Nom the Plumage*

      The difference here, though, is that the blue lives matter is a direct slap to the face for people of color. BLM wouldn’t exist if police violence didn’t exist, so to turn around and say “blue lives matter” in response doesn’t only show support for police, it shows disrespect to a protected class of people.

    6. AMT*

      It’s reductionist to boil it down to a “political disagreement.” A disagreement over a group of people’s right to physical safety is much different from a disagreement about whether we should raise taxes to build a new highway.

      As a trans person, I have heard this argument so many times in reference to trans/queer rights (“It’s just politics! Why not agree to disagree? Why can’t you reach across the aisle and be friends?”) and my response is always the same: I don’t want to be around people who don’t think I deserve a full set of human rights. It is not safe.

      1. Blueberry*

        I just wanted to cheer you on, while we’re here. It’s bad enough for me to be told to agree to disagree with racists; I can’t even imagine how wrenching it is for you to be told to agree to disagree with people who disrespect and deny your very existence. I support you.

        1. AMT*

          Thank you. I have been going “yyyyyeah!” to all of your comments in this thread. You’ve playing a fine game of racism whack-a-mole. :-)

    7. Jessie the First (or second)*

      I don’t think you’ve really thought particularly deeply about the situation the LW wrote about.

      There is the “Blue Lives Matter” flag, yes. But in addition, “[w]ith one or two exceptions, everyone is white, cis, and straight.”

      And “In the past few years, we’ve changed up our management team, which is now predominantly men, when it was previously all women.”

      And “We have fired all but one of our black employees in the years I’ve been here.”

      And “When I have brought up issues of diversity and inclusion in the past, I have been told that our clients are overwhelmingly white and conservative, and we need to make them comfortable”

      And “While I don’t have proof that we actively discriminate in the hiring and promotion process, our track record is questionable at best”

      So, sure, you can decide to focus on the flag and argue that people who lean left politically are being hypocritical, and they wouldn’t have the same reaction to a black lives matter/metoo/rainbow/anti-Trump poster…. But that would be missing a pretty big forest in order to focus on a tiny little sapling tree.

      The red flags that the company is actively discriminatory are waving really aggressively. LW has tried to talk to the senior people about it. Now LW is grasping at the flag, but honestly, it is a symptom of what appears to be really problematic behavior by the company.

      You are trying to turn this around on the LW now? That the problem is that LW isn’t truly diverse because they won’t work with people who disagree politically? That’s disingenuous. And it isn’t “asking a question that should be asked” – your question misses some really central facts about the LW’s situation.

    8. Ashley*

      No I wouldn’t feel the same way if someone had a Black Lives Matter flag or a Me Too flag. I detest the mentality that to be fair we have to tolerate and/or give equal weight to all political beliefs. There are some beliefs that well-meaning people can differ on, like whether private insurance or government sponsored insurance is a better model for society, but there are other beliefs that do not have well meaning people on both sides . And for me that includes political beliefs regarding the subjection of a group of people.

    9. Witchy Human*

      I don’t think it’s wise to announce your politics at work. But Black Lives Matter and #MeToo are in response to danger and discrimination experienced by black people and women respectively. Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter exist to refute Black Lives Matter. There’s a difference between political leanings that think the other side is wrong and political leanings that think the other side is inferior.

      I’m not going to refuse to work with someone displaying their Blue Lives Matter or MAGA or MRA gear. But there are decisions it would factor into. As an example: if it’s part of their job to screen job applicants, I would absolutely make sure they aren’t the sole decision-maker.

    10. Diahann Carroll*

      You really don’t need to play Devil’s Advocate for every situation – the Devil has enough help already.

    11. Captain S*

      “. Ive had situations where someone finds out that a coworker, that they have worked with well for years, finds out that they lean the other way politically, and now refuse to work with them. That isn’t realistic or professional.”

      If I find out that someone doesn’t respect my humanity as a queer person and I don’t feel safe around them anymore, that’s on them not on me. Framing this as “leaning one way politically” is minimizing. We aren’t talking about tax policy.

      We are talking about basic human rights of marginalized people.

      Of course companies can hire people with different backgrounds and different viewpoints, but someone expressing a viewpoint that marginalizes or encourage violence against certain populations is a perfectly reasonable thing to filter for in employees. Don’t hire white supremacists. Don’t hire homophobic people etc.

      That’s realistic and professional.

      1. san junipero*

        Hear, hear. Many years ago, I belonged to a social organization that was 99% comprised of lefties like me, but we had one notoriously conservative member. When Proposition 8 passed (for those who don’t know/remember, this was a ballot measure banning same-sex marriage in California, which had previously legalized it), I was devastated and furious, along with several of my fellow queer and allied members. We were freely ranting and raving, both in person and over our email lists… and then our conservative decided to butt in and tell us how much we were hurting *her* feelings with our anger. Not that we were advocating violence or anything like that — I think the worst we said was your basic “#*&$ Republicans” or something like that.

        And then the moderate ‘intellectuals’ of the group decided to step in and urge ‘reason’ and ‘tolerance’ and so forth and so on.

        And I stopped associating with any of those people, because they told me that my feelings about having my basic human rights stripped away were literally equivalent to someone feeling insulted by some righteously-angry name calling.

    12. Alton*

      I don’t think that ideas such as “people shouldn’t be sexually harassed at work” or “black people’s lives should be treated with the same dignity as white peoples'” should be considered divisive political statements, personally. What’s the difference between this and observing MLK Day, for example?

      I’m trying to think of how someone would display the opposite viewpoint to #MeToo at work and am having a hard time thinking of anything that wouldn’t run the risk of creating a hostile work environment. A poster expressing approval of sexual harassment seems inherently more threatening than one that supports victims of it. Not all opinions are equally acceptable in our society, and sometimes there’s a good reason for that.

      So yes, I’d be more okay with a Black Lives Matter poster than a Blue Lives Matter poster. That’s not just because I agree with the former and not the latter. I have beliefs that I wouldn’t express at work because they’re personal.

      Also, someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think that political opinions are a protected class under the EEOC.

    13. Nephron*

      Is there a #notallmen flag now? Because yeah I am going to be annoyed and make decisions about employment based on that. A #MeToo flag would be in support of victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment, predominantly women but men as well. Is there a lot of virtue signaling in companies using rainbow flags and the like? Yes, but while a #MeToo post from the official twitter does not equal great sexual harassment policies that company is going to way ahead of the one posting #notallmen.

      Diversity of thought is great, but there are dumb ideas that are just dumb. Antivaxxers do not belong in the health department, people that believe in creationism rather than evolution should not be teaching biology, abstinence only education is a proven failure, and people that are limiting their customer base to a small percentage of 1 race and possibly gender are not good for leadership roles in companies. Firing a team of investment guys because they are registered republicans is dumb, but firing them because they refuse to work with same-sex couples is good management. More and more decision makers are women, POC, and younger Americans that are going to uncomfortable with this company. This company created an echo chamber that is locked in with their current customers and soon they are not going to have people that can interact with anyone but these customers.

    14. 1LFTW*

      I mean… maybe this question should be asked? But does it need to be asked here, now, in response to a question about an overtly racist symbol portrayed in the office of a not-so-covertly sexist, white supremacist CEO?

      You’re right that the EEOC doesn’t “just protect people whose political leanings lean in one direction”. I’m sure you know that it’s supposed to protect the black employees of OP’s company, all but one of whom have been coincidentally fired. It’s supposed to protect all the female managers who have also left the company. Just as importantly, it’s supposed to protect black and female applicants to the OP’s company, ensuring that they do not face discriminatory hiring practices.

      But, in spite of the EEOC’s existence, the CEO has flat-out told OP that he does not want a diverse workforce because he thinks his clientele is “more comfortable” with his overtly racist hiring decisions. In other words, this has nothing to do with “political leanings” and EVERYTHING to do with actual, blatant, honest-to-god racism.

    15. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

      “We as an organization cannot only employee a certain political or religious leaning. In fact if we did, we would be violating the law. The EEOC doesn’t just protect people whose political leanings lean in one direction.”

      The EEOC doesn’t protect anyone based on political leanings, because political belief is not a protected class like race or gender. A business can, if it wants to, fire all registered Libertarians without running afoul of legal protections (assuming there is no state law forbidding them from doing that). Certain political activities (voting, organizing a union, etc.) are protected, but political beliefs generally are not.

      And even if you have sincerely-held religious beliefs, which are a protected characteristic, you can be fired for creating a hostile work environment due to those beliefs (for example, if you refuse to have meetings with people of a different gender than you, or refuse to hire black people because you believe in the Curse of Ham).

      The problem here is not a lack of “Diversity of Thought” on the part of OP. If there is such a lack, it’s from OP’s superiors who openly refuse to hire diverse employees because they want to appeal to a white and conservative clientele. But I find it interesting that you’re pushing back on OP for being intolerant, when OP’s company is being openly intolerant in a way that likely leaves them open to actual liability down the road.

    16. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      There’s a saying I’ve seen floating around, and while it’s not perfect, it encapsulates the general sentiment pretty nicely — “If you’re welcoming to both sheep and wolves, you’re gonna end up with only wolves.”

      In other words, saying that you’re welcoming to both me and people who want to harm me means you are not, in fact, welcoming to me, and nothing you can say — while still welcoming those wolves — will change the facts on the ground.

    17. Lavender Menace*

      I work in diversity as well, and this false equivalence argument is precisely why I can’t stand “diversity of thought.” The original diversity movement was begun to increase the numbers of underrepresented minorities – women, people of color, LGBTQ people, disabled people, etc. – in fields in which they have the opportunity to earn money and wield societal power. “Diversity of thought” was a co-opting by a bunch of folks who wanted to water down the message to avoid making white straight cis people uncomfortable – or worse, to indirectly oppose actual diversity by counting different opinions as “diversity.” It’s why many companies in my field (tech) can claim that they are “diverse!” while flashing pictures made up of mostly solely white straight cis able-bodied men.

      No, I would not have the same reaction to a BLM flag, a rainbow flag, or #MeToo, because they are not the same thing. Those flags have the audacity to claim that I, a black queer woman, am a human deserving of worth and dignity just like anyone else.

      Yes, I have issues with people who believe my people deserve to be shot and killed by the police, or that my people don’t deserve to have love and live their relationships publicly like everyone else, or that women who reveal sexual harassment should stop complaining. That’s what people who oppose BLM, rainbow flags, and #MeToo are saying.

  67. Anonymouse*

    I used to work with law enforcement and they had that flag up. I didn’t do this, but I’ve always been tempted to object to the Blue Lives Matter flag because it’s desecration of the flag to alter it.

    from “Flag Etiquette: Standards of Respect”
    “The flag should never have placed on it, or attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind.”

    Go to them and tell them that the flag disturbs you because it is a desecration of the flag to alter it in any way.

    1. Wintermute*

      I think you make a very good point, this argument may get a lot more traction with a highly conservative boss and organization than any other.

      Though, the flag code has no enforcement provisions so it’s technically voluntary whether you wish to follow it or not., and I think the argument could be made that it’s not really an American flag, it’s a different flag because it has a different design, the LW doesn’t have to tell THEM any of that! The kinds of people that would act like her bosses are the kind of people that would fall all over themselves to ensure they’re “respecting the flag”.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        You’re talking about a demographic that likes to put the flag on its swimsuits and shorts.

        What I notice about the flag code is that it’s a tool that’s used to suppress expression, by both sides. meh.

        1. Wintermute*

          You’re not wrong but at the same time, knowing your demographic helps. If you can paint it as “to respect the ____” where blank is Flag, Troops, American Way, etc. They’ll comply reflexively, because, of course they support the ____

  68. AnonAndFrustrated*

    My advice to OP is to take the next good job offer you can find. Get out. Most of us can’t get out of or quit out families or family members that display these racist items/tendencies, but a job is something you can quit. Life is too short to put up with this kind of crap. Go somewhere that is more inclusive and where you can be content.

  69. Red5*

    I feel at this point trying to address the specifics of the CEO’s office decor is akin to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. There are larger problems at this organization that you have tried to address and been shut down. It’s entirely possible that the removal of your management duties has been in response to your reasonable concerns. The bottom line is they seem comfortable being a racist, sexist organization catering to racist, sexist clients. Now the question becomes whether you feel you can continue working for such an organization. Everyone has to draw their own line; if it were me I’d keep my head down, mouth shut, and aggressively look for a job at a company that isn’t comfortable with racism and misogyny. Good luck!

    1. Wintermute*

      Yeah, I feel like the LW really kind of buried the lede on this one– the issue isn’t the flag, taken in isolation there’s a lot of reasons people may choose to display that, either ignorant of the greater cultural context around it, or disagreeing with people that feel it’s inherently racist (which, lets be clear, is many people). BUT, it’s not in isolation, it’s a visible symbol of an organization that is actively minimizing the roles of any women in power, has suspect recruiting practices, is quite likely engaging in legally prohibited discrimination, and is actively taking steps to make the problem worse not better.

  70. Nom the Plumage*

    “When I have brought up issues of diversity and inclusion in the past, I have been told that our clients are overwhelmingly white and conservative, and we need to make them comfortable”

    This is icky. It implies that they are uncomfortable around people of color. I’d run far and fast from this organization.

  71. Veronica*

    I agree with others, it sounds like OP is being eased out as a bad culture fit. Condolences OP, on these changes in your company!
    Get a job at a non-racist company. Let this company show its attitude to everyone, and let nature take its course. If it’s not in a racist area, the company will go down.

  72. Boston Para*

    What if you went the humor route first and said you didn’t realize Smurfs were a marginalized group. Maybe it could start a real conversation, but given all the other things referenced in your letter, I doubt it. I work with somebody who truly thinks people who aren’t comfortable at work should just get other jobs. Because it’s so easy, right? It sounds like it’s time to update your resume and move along for a company that doesn’t advertise its hostility toward minorities. Sorry.

  73. Boston Para*

    Thank you for your comment. I didn’t realize there were “Blue Lives Matter” flags prior to the Black Lives Matter movement. Regardless, it is still interpreted by many people as racist. Perception is reality. The swastika started as a Sanskrit symbol but is no longer in use for obvious reasons. Perhaps you would be happier following a different blog since you think Alison and her commenters are all asshats. Isn’t your time to precious to waste with us?

  74. musical chairs*

    I hope you say something! One really meaningful thing you could also do for the few folks who …um…don’t “make the clients comfortable”…is use the power of c-suite position to give them glowing references (inasfar as you can vouch for their work) or connections to jobs outside of this organization. I can’t imagine how emotionally and mentally exhausting this environment would be for those who see this endorsement for what it is.

    If you don’t know their work, get to know it as much as you can before you leave. (And yes I’m also hoping you get to leave too!) Let them know you’d be willing to do this cause they might not know they have someone in their corner who has actual sway. Ask them what they might need from you on their way out.You have an opportunity to do some really specific good (that maybe only you can do) for a few people who could likely really use it!

  75. Allypopx*

    OP, remember that your associations impact people’s perceptions of you as well. I know it’s not as simple as “Just find another job!” but you see the direction the company is going, your attempts to point out your concerns have been dismissed (to make white clients comfortable, yikes!), and now this. I would jump ship, as immediately as possible. You see it now, it will be understood more broadly eventually, and you don’t want to be associated with an organization like this when that happens. The stench will stick to you for a long time.

  76. Notasecurityguard*

    OP based on the other things you’ve said about your company I doubt it’ll matter if you raise the issue of the flag but it’ll probably cost you some. I’d also recommend looking for an escape hatch myself were I in your place.

    Also, and I say this as one of the “blue lives”, blue lives matter is some PROFOUND bullshit and we’re already a protected class (you lay a hand on me at work it’s a “go straight to jail, do not pass go” situation unless I decide I’m feeling very forgiving that day, that is some protection). Like yeah I don’t think subjecting officers to verbal or physical harassment for being a cop is super cool but I think that’s true of people in most industries (imo it’s like calling soldiers baby-killers, it’s not the worst thing you could do but it’s also not cool), and as an officer I HATE seeing “blue lives matter” bullshit

  77. pegster*

    If you think your company is racist (hint: it is), then what would you achieve by getting the flag removed? You’d be making it less obvious what it is. But who does that help if the fundamental issue is that the company is racist?

    1. Allypopx*

      I think the LW is still in the stage of thinking these things can be changed, the bargaining stage of grief if you will. Which is a hopeful thought, but everything that has been described is so systemic that it’ll do better to jump right to acceptance and GTFO.

  78. I will not remain silent*

    I love it. Alison immediately puts off limits any debate about the core of the letter lest anyone offer a dissenting opinion.

    I’m sure this comment will be deleted in about 15 seconds, but in that time, maybe it will serve as a teaching moment for anyone who reads it. Speech control = thought control, and nobody does speech control like the left.

    1. fposte*

      So you’re arguing people should be allowed to use the private property of others for their own purposes?

    2. Wintermute*

      It’s not about that, it’s that if allowed that debate, which is ultimately irrelevant to the answer, would dominate the comment section entirely.

      If someone writes in saying they’re on fire and what’s the best way to put it out, a dozen 50-post threads about how stunt men get set on fire all the time, that BBQ lighter accident your uncle had and how he was fine, a story about how race car drivers wear nomex suits to survive alcohol fuel fires, etc. isn’t useful in the least, the writer wants to know how to STOP BEING ON FIRE, not be told that being on fire is normal.

    3. Dahlia*

      If I invite you over to my house, I am fully within my rights to tell you not to shit on my living room carpet.

      You have a particular reason you want to shit on Allison’s carpet?

    4. Parenthetically*

      Oh, I had no idea Alison was the United States government, and that she had the power to imprison people for offering dissenting opinions! This whole time I thought she was a writer, hosting a private forum in which she, as the owner, was allowed to set rules and make certain topics off-limits! Thank you, brave dissenter, for correcting us all! Please post your address so that we may all come over and sit in your living room and expound on OUR chosen topics without fear of being evicted, since you’re so opposed to speech control!

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      This is not a forum for political debate, it’s a forum for career advice. We are encouraged on every post to try to keep comments relevant to the situation and to the actual question asked by the letter writer.

    6. Spargle*

      lol ok – I’m not sure where you’re seeing speech control here but whatever. and as your comment has been up for 8 hours at this point, sorry that you didn’t get to metaphorically die on your internet commenting sword I guess.

  79. animaniactoo*

    LW – I’m just adding my voice here to say – get out while you can still do it on your own terms. Give the EEOC a head’s up to take a hard look at them on the way out or after you’re out if you want. Because while stuff is “plausible” for how everything ended up where it did, plausibility wears thin when you’re talking about the results they’ve gotten to.

    You are not on their side and they know it. Full well, dead stop, and this is not going to be a company that is going to reverse course or right the ship any time in the near future. You have no influence left to use because the people who would want to hear you and COULD make a difference have been removed from that position. Get out while you have time to job hunt and they are more likely to be willing to give you a good reference.

  80. Justin*

    Alison, you’re going to have to lock this whole thing down soon, so I wanted to say thanks for including the letter at all, because the discussion and pushback are very instructive.

    For the… differing opinions:

    (deep breath)

    Racism is systemic, regardless of whether or not an individual consciously chooses to engage in it. You can – and do! – perpetuate the system when you attempt to be neutral (this goes for other forms of discrimination too). Unfortuantely, attempting to support police in this way has been co-opted by people who want to further marginalize people of color (and particularly black people). So by doing so, one is perpetuating systemic racism, even if one isn’t individually racist (although this company seems to be full of avowed racists).

      1. Justin*

        Well, at this point in my life, the goal is more to state these points for the people who are sympathetic but need language to support their feelings.

        The people who disagree, I am done trying to fight with. They can join the 5,000th NY Times story about “why the racists are people too.”

        1. Blueberry*

          Yeah. My responses here aren’t because I expect the people I’m disagreeing with to listen to me, but because some concepts need to be disagreed with and others can find the discussion edifying.

          1. MayLou*

            I once knew someone who took this approach when engaging with people who were being transphobic. She was trans and also a very experience biochemist (I think? Some kind of scientist that would know a lot more than me about human biology), and she would be very reasonable, very calm, and very evidence-based in her response to people who were telling her she was an abomination. Her point was that the person she was talking to would never change their views, but the people who witnessed the exchange might.

  81. Brownstag*

    Am I the only one wondering if LW has some other definition of c-level? I think it means CEO, CFO, COO, CMO, CIO, CHRO. Is LW not one of these officers of the company?

    1. ArtK*

      Why would you assume that they aren’t? Politics happen at all levels of a company and it’s certainly not unheard-of for a C-level executive to get frozen out of stuff for not following the company line. There’s nothing in the OP’s letter that implies that they aren’t a Cxx. They may have left out the specific office in order to retain some anonymity.

    2. Former c level*

      C levels aren’t always included in everything. Once I worked at a place where the ceo and coo did an entire reorg which resulted in a 10 person vp team that was only white women between ages 30-55. The other c level staffer and I were told after the fact, and our opinions definitely weren’t welcome.

  82. Cass*

    Don’t say anything, OP. It’s just going to advance their timeline for pushing you out. Instead focus your efforts on getting out of there.

  83. RUKiddingMe*

    OP…really, they aren’t going to see your point of view pretty much ever. I’d bail for a better job and Glassdoor the crap out of them.

  84. A Poster Has No Name*

    You’re a good egg, OP. I agree with others that this company doesn’t want diversity, and you’re best off looking around for a company that appreciates your values more than these people. I don’t know if saying anything about this flag will do any more than your previous comments about diversity–they’ve made it clear where they stand on that.

    I’d leave one hell of a Glassdoor review on my way out, though.

  85. Quill*

    The way you’ve described it, it’s possible the flag should stay up as a warning. But even if that weren’t the case: you’ve been reorganized to a role with less responsibilities and aren’t comfortable with the way your company prefers to handle its public image, it’s time to spruce up your resume and see if it’s time to make a change.

  86. Anon Vet*

    LW: “…and active military to be considered a protected class…”

    Just a note that active military is a protected class for employment.
    “Protected people include those who are on active duty, inactive duty training, initial active duty training, active duty for training, and funeral honors. It also includes a period during which someone leaves his or her employer in order to be examined to determine his or her fitness to perform any of these duties.

    “Unlike many of the other anti-discrimination statutes, which apply only to employers of a certain size, USERRA covers all employers in the United States, irrespective of size. Part-time or probationary employees receive as much protection as full-time employees under USERRA.”
    https://www.justia.com/employment/employment-discrimination/military-status-discrimination/

  87. LilySparrow*

    Who are these white clients who would be “uncomfortable” having non-white employees working on their projects or accounts?

    That’s extreme.

    I mean, there’s one level of racism where people are freaked out by, say, a black president. But folks who would be put off by having people of color working for them?

    That’s beyond Jim Crow.

      1. LilySparrow*

        Oh, I don’t question the existence of such people, at all.

        I’m just emphasizing that the “client persona” this business is catering to is not a garden-variety reactionary with unexamined bias.
        It’s an absolute extremist white-supremacist. That is the target audience they are building their business model around.

  88. MonteCristo85*

    This is sort of tangential to this question, but its a situation at my current employer that I’m not sure how (or if) I want to react. Recenetly there have been some complaints to HR. I consider myself to be on the liberal side of things, but I did think both of these complaints weren’t HR worthy, but I could be wrong. One was about a (regular) American flag hung up in the mill, the person making the complaint saying the flag was racist. HR told them to take it down, despite the fact there are American flags hanging at our entrance and admin building (as per usual around here). Then someone complained about a bumper another employee had on their personal vehicle, made by a company named “Cross” and having a cross symbol on it. HR responded by approaching that employee and asking them “what they were going to do about it” which they answered with a not very political “not a damn thing”.

    Now, because of this drama, a bunch of people have decided to purposely try and offend whoever has made thes complaints, so a number of people have hung up flags in their offices, and now two different people have permanently displayed Trump election paraphernalia (hats, posters, etc). Like I said, I think the original complaints were a little silly, but this reaction I think has gone over into inappropriate behavior, particularly the election stuff. Is it not considered off-limits to have election propaganda up in the office? I get it if you just have a bumper stick on your car, but it doesn’t seem at all appropriate to me.

    Is this something that merits a talk with HR? I mean it’s not my style at all (I don’t think I’ve ever done it before), but this just really feels not work appropriate.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Because it’s not. Bringing in racist paraphernalia, which the Trump stuff most certainly is, and displaying it because someone ran to HR about a stupid cross sticker on a bumper and a flag being displayed (seriously – do these people not have better things to do?) is juvenile and highly inappropriate. That’s like somebody slapping you and then you turning around and shooting them in the face – the punishment is way disproportionate to the original offense.

      1. 1LFTW*

        Ugh, yeah, the current political climate makes me wonder if the people who complained to HR in the first place were trolling. Speaking as a religious minority who has learned (through sad experience) to be wary of people who have overt religious slogans on their car, I have a hard time believing that was a complaint made in good faith (heh). Even in the case of overt religious slogans, I’d merely have my antennae pricked. In the case of a business that happened to be named “Cross”? Puh-leeze.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Trolling, or they just had personal issues with the employees in question independent of the cross and flag and decided to use those issues to get them in trouble.

    2. 1LFTW*

      I think you could argue that electioneering of any kind is inappropriate in a workplace setting (I’m assuming you don’t work on an actual campaign).

  89. Princess Cimorene*

    LOL at trying to ask what is blatant to play nice, instead of actively looking elsewhere for new employment. Staying somewhere like this to me seems complicit and in agreement with what sounds like a deliberate horrible group of people in a horrible place to work. Why stay?

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      It sounds like maybe this used to be a much better place but that it has over time become more and more sexist and racist. I can understand how to an employee living through this it all seemed like one individual thing after another and they didn’t really come together as a whole picture. I really hope that the letter writer is able to re-read what they wrote and see “wow this is now a really terrible place and it’s time for me to go.”

      1. ArtK*

        There’s a predisposition to think “I’m a good person. I don’t associate with bad things. Therefore, this can’t be as bad as it might seem. I’m sure I can work to fix it.” This happens in personal relationships all the time. Sometimes with fatal results.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      It doesn’t sound like the OP is complicit — it sounds like they’re trying to make a change, and fighting against the tide.

    1. Quill*

      “Our grievances and solutions extend beyond the police killing of our people; state violence includes failing schools that criminalize our children, dwindling earning opportunities, wars on our trans and queer family that deny them of their humanity, and so much more”

      – Montague Simmons of Organization for Black Struggle and the Movement for Black Lives Policy Table

      Other demands:
      – abolish the death penalty (for everyone)
      – stop the privatization of the police
      – stop violence against queer people and people of color
      – stop using prior convictions to prevent voting

      Not seeing the racism, and if this is communism, well, onwards, comrade.

    2. ArtK*

      Please read Alison’s comment at the top of this thread. Whether the Blue Lives Matter flag *is* racist, is immaterial. It is interpreted as racist by a large number of people; many of whom are *not* ignorant, but are quite aware of things.

      It boils down to: Our CEO is displaying something in his office that is polarizing and could offend a big segment of the population, including employees, job candidates and customers. What can I do?

      Given the rest of the context, the best advice is for the OP to bail out because a lot of the other actions by the company are consistent with interpreting the flag as racist.

    3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      So, are you OK with seven-year-old Black children being shot dead in their sleep, or is sleeping while Black so dangerous that a police officer should shoot first and then maybe ask questions?

      I don’t believe that blue lives matter is racist because I think all cops are white men. I believe that it’s racist because racists are using it as a dog whistle, and because even your comment recognizes that “blue lives matter” was a response to people saying that *black lives matter as much as white lives do.* I also think that civilian lives matter as much as police lives: the police are armed because their job is to protect *everyone*, not because they’re more important than everyone else.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The whole point is that all lives matter.

      It’s about now segregating each one and making it anything about “them vs us”.

      I’ve seen bored cops harassing people my entire life. You’re right, they’re not all white males at all though. That’s for sure.

      Yet when we call the cops when there’s an accidental incident, we get a jaded cop that answers the call and asks why we’d call in a drunken assault in our own home because eventually the person involved has left the scene.

      But sure. We’re just all a bunch of criminals supporting other criminals. RME. It’s not about you. It’s never been about you.

  90. carcat*

    Why would a POC see that and assume that the person was exclusively referring only to white cops? Or am I missing something …

      1. carcat*

        In 2013, 27% of local police forces were comprised of officers from racial minorities. That number doubled in the decade or so prior. The greatest disparity for minority groulps between officers and the communities they serve exist for Asian and Hispanics, usually in communities with rapidly changing demographics. Source– the Bureau of Justice statistcs.

        Instead of defaulting to assuming the worst about someone who says something different than he might have, he should have a conversation with his co-workers.

  91. Mark*

    It’s not a “Blue Lives Matter” flag. It’s a Thin Blue Line flag and simply denotes support for law enforcement. It is no more racist than a rainbow sticker would be if a bunch of of Neo-Nazis appropriated it as their logo. The “Thin Blue Line” concept predates BLM by decades. You have effectively labeled anyone who supports law enforcement as racists. Ironically, it is racists who broadly apply negative stereotypes to entire demographics.

    1. Lavender Menace*

      1) The Thin Blue Line flag has never not been controversial. It’s not like the tension between police and black people started with the Black Lives Matter movement. The movement was created in response to centuries of oppression and violence enacted upon black people by police officers and other law enforcement. And it does not simply denote support for law enforcement.

      The term “thin blue line” also refers to the cohesion of the police force itself, in particular, the practice of ‘good’ police not wanting to provide evidence against other officers, even when they have personal knowledge of corruption, abuse, or misbehavior. in this way it is often synonymous with the ‘Blue wall of silence’.

      2) Language and symbols change in meaning. A (non-Hindu) person who displayed a swastika and insisted it was a symbol of peace and not racism would be tone-deaf at best. I guarantee you no one would be arguing he should be allowed to keep it up.

      3) Miss us with the false equivalence.

    2. LawBee*

      When I look up “Blue Lives Matter flag” and “Thin Blue Line flag” I get the exact same flags – so for all intents and purposes, they are the same thing. The LW’s coworker is selling it as a Blue Lives Matter flag, the boss bought it as a Blue Lives Matter flag. It’s the same flag.

      I support law enforcement. I don’t support unchecked violence against black people by those wearing uniforms. I also know that most police don’t support unchecked violence against black people. I also know that blind support of any institution without acknowledging that there may be systemic problems and bad actors in that institution is dumb dumb dumb.

  92. His Grace*

    I need to be honest: the concept of Blue Lives Matter is utter BS to me (Full disclosure: I am a black man who has friends and family who work in law enforcement and/or corrections), for most of the reasons mentioned above. LW, I would seriously question if I want to work for people who are that recalcitrant in their thinking about diversity in the workplace and out of it. Because this looks like the formula for a toxic work environment, especially is everyone is pale, stale, and male.

    That being said, I would at least explain my concerns about the Blue Matters Flag (in writing if possible, as it gives you a variety of scripts to play with). If you have any pull within this company (as a C-level, I would assume you do), the employer should at least give you the benefit of the doubt.

Comments are closed.