updates: the Blue Lives Matter flag, the handshake avoider, and more

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, when I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are three updates from past letter-writers.

1. Should I ask my employer to take down a Blue Lives Matter flag?

As many of your commenters realized, the company was forcing me out. I was asked to resign around the time the letter was published. Part of me wishes I had left a terrible Glassdoor review, filed a lawsuit, and burned that bridge completely, but I didn’t. I left fairly quietly and tried not to look back.

I took some time to regroup and think about what I wanted to get out of work. I had spent so many years trying to build an inclusive culture with a founder who was indifferent on his best day. For a while, my efforts worked, and I thought I was making a positive change. Still, there was a rot at the center of the management team, fueled by insecurity on many levels, that eventually infiltrated every part of the organization. It wasn’t until I left that I realized how exhausted I was with carrying out this fight all day, every day, by myself.

For my own mental health, I cut all ties, including blocking the company’s social posts and updates, and I’ve tried to avoid any industry gossip. I genuinely believe they will dig their own grave, or at least struggle to stay relevant and competitive in a quickly diversifying world.

My departure has been entirely positive. I had time to reposition my expertise and work my network before the economy took a turn. Not wanting to dive back into a leadership role without doing thorough due diligence on the next company, I started my own consulting business that has taken off. I’m not making as much as I was before, but I am also not working myself to the bone. I am excited about the work I’m doing and the wide variety of clients I’m able to help, and I’m thinking one of these engagement may ultimately become a full-time gig. It’s been a stressful, exciting, challenging, rewarding time.

I’m grateful for the wakeup call you and the commenters provided. Some part of my identity was very tied to the job title and the role I thought I was filling. It has been liberating to get back that piece of myself and use it to actually help people who are thankful for my support.

2. Our marketing director thinks he’s a celebrity spokesperson (#2 at the link)

I knew I would get nowhere talking to my line of command, so I approached it from another angle. The contests he was running were skirting close to contesting laws in my jurisdiction so I brought it up to the legal department. As you also thought, they were much more receptive than the CEO. I wasn’t privy to details but was told he had a talking-to. He has calmed down a bit with his claims on social media but he does remain fairly over the top, constantly talking about his personal branding and thought leadership and such. I chalk it up to massive personality differences and am just thankful I’m his peer and not his employee.

3. How can I avoid shaking hands?

I had the opportunity to take your advice only once, and it went fine! The two people who tried to shake my hand brushed it off and didn’t seem offended. But, the only good news about the COVID pandemic is that I will never, ever, have to worry about, or apologize for, avoiding a handshake again now! In fact, I’ve mentioned to a few people that you’ll probably have to stop talking about me behind my back now! Boo-yah! I was right all along!!

{ 163 comments… read them below }

  1. Mid*

    Somewhat related to Letter 1, so many companies seem to want to hire a diversity and inclusion specialist, or a similar role, and very very few of them actually implement anything. It seems like a lot of places think that just hiring someone is enough, and aren’t willing to actually change their cultural issues.

    1. Beth*

      Yeah — I think there’s a lot of magical thinking involved. “We hired a diversity person, therefore we have achieved Full Diverse Wokitude and we’ll never have to worry about that BS again, yay!” Similar to “We don’t need to think about appealing to a diverse audience; I know there’s a black person who sometimes attends our events, so we must be doing it right.”

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        And its cousin, the Tech Conference with a Panel About Diversity. Where most people on the panel are middle-class cis white women, plus either an Asian woman or a Black man (still cisgender and middle class). All speakers on technical topics will be cis white men.

        I’ve spoken at tech conferences, and I stick to technical subjects. I figure I can’t do much about being a middle class cis white woman, but I can at least refuse to cater to the idea that having the Panel About Diversity means your conference has achieved Full Diverse Wokitude.

        1. Anon4this*

          Doesn’t Silicon Valley and the whole tech industry have an unusually high number of cisgender male Asians?

          Isn’t that diversity?

          1. Helena1*

            Yes, and for some completely mysterious reason, they don’t make it onto conference panels. That is the issue.

    2. filosofickle*

      A bunch of my colleagues are D&I folks…and I wouldn’t want that job for all the tea in China. Not because it isn’t necessary and meaningful, because so few organizations are really willing to do the work! Even if they truly care, which only some do. At one point in my career I wanted to do more culture design work in general, but after watching client after client fail to implement even basic stuff I backed off.

      1. Mid*

        Same. I was really interested it as a career, before realizing how frustrated everyone who works in that area is, and that I’m not polite nor patient enough to make it as a professional in that arena.

      2. Jedi Squirrel*

        There’s a name for such organizations: DINOs — Diverse In Name Only

        1. AKchic*


          “make our diversity quota” was a line I’ve heard way too many times working in HR.

          Too often, management wants the illusion of effort made with no real change, so they get the good PR or so they can keep lawsuits at bay. That’s it. It all boils down to “how will this bring me more profit?” rather than “how will this make my employees happy and foster a good work environment?”.

    3. irene adler*

      I think you are right.
      I’d love to ask HR folks how they assure their work place is diverse. What things do they do -specifically in the hiring process- to achieve diversity?

        1. Law Office Anon*

          It won’t, because there are tons of people who are great on paper and nightmares in person, so you will need to do interviews at some point.

    4. Justin*

      I mean that’s it. They don’t want to implicate themselves, so they hire someone and if things don’t change, that person failed.

    5. Anonymous Librarian*

      Yep. Former colleague at former employer was the D&I person. She spoke a little too candidly to higher-ups about their “check the box but don’t actually make changes” approach to diversity. She was fired a few days later. Another employer hired a D&I person with a strong track record who seemed to be doing good, solid work (creating a diversity strategic plan, meeting with constituents throughout the university, including students, etc.). She was fired a few days before her probationary period was up. Needless to say, I’ve gotten really cynical about organizations that claim to be serious about diversity. Talk is cheap. Real change is not.

    6. LifeBeforeCorona*

      This company reminds me of the cartoon of two dinosaurs watching a comet hurtling towards earth and saying “Nah, nothing to worry about.”

    7. Sigh*

      My former company asked every person of color, at best 10% of the company, to be on its (uncompensated with no reduction of regular duties) diversity committee. We were broadly in the “business research” field, and a person I know who took them up on it found out they were trying to monetize the research they did on diversity and inclusion for the committee. She quit the company not long after…

    8. Doc in a Box*

      Yup. My department’s D&I officer is a married white man. I think he is genuinely interested and does a lot to try and recruit under-represented minority students to our field — but the optics ain’t good.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        Yeah, the optics aren’t great if you look at who the D&I officer is, but a married cishet white guy could do a good job of it. If the org focuses on results, and he can actually get them, then those would be the thing to focus on.

        I say that as a white-passing cishet male with an Anglo name who always tries to hire for diversity.

    9. Lancelottie*

      My friend is a professor who specializes in disability and rehabilitation psych. She’s lost count of the number of panels and conferences she’s been invited to speak at where she ultimately had to decline because it just “wasn’t feasible” for them to hold the event in an accessible building. How do you expect people to believe you’re genuinely interested in inclusivity when you’re not willing to make bare minimum efforts to ensure that an *expert in the subject* who is also *a member of the population you purport to be trying to include* can get into the room?!?

    10. DiscoCat*

      Sounds like that panel set up to talk about something like “women’s rights” or “gender equality” in Saudi Arabia a few years ago, composed of about 8 conservative men. And then SA got elected into the UN women’s rights body in 2017, can’t make that stuff up…
      But on a positive note: well done LW1, for finding your feet, for looking out for yourself and congratulations on your success!

      1. Writeosaurus*

        A few years ago, my boss and I went to a seminar organised by the International Association of Women in Llama Grooming. It was well attended, with some very experienced female llama groomers in the audience. By halfway through, it became apparent that all of the speakers, every single one, was male. At least one spoke on the valuable administrative support women could give to the llama grooming profession.

        At the break, my boss challenged the committee on the panel make-up, and was told “We tried, but we couldn’t find any women willing to speak.” “Right,” she said. “Find me a slot.”

  2. Beth*

    LW 1: It’s not too late to leave that Glassdoor review . . . but I certainly understand not wanting to pour more precious water into that toxic sandpit.

    Massive congratulations to you for leaving, and getting yourself into a better place!

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Please, please, please leave the review! Give others the courtesy of not having to walk into that without knowing how it really is, and lay the foundation for the company to be held accountable for their actions. You just never know. It’s easy and low-risk to you, with positive benefit for others.

      1. pope suburban*

        I third this. I worked for a similarly toxic company, and unfortunately couldn’t leave in the abrupt and/or dramatic fashion that I secretly wished (and that, frankly, they deserved, and had had from a few other people in my role before me; the “go to lunch and never return” was a pretty common move there). So I did the right thing like this LW, but I did put up a Glassdoor review after I was safely settled at my new job. I didn’t feel right letting other people walk into a snake pit like that. Some people might still have to take a position there out of need, but at least they’ll have an idea what they’re in for.

      2. Mike B.*


        The only thing companies like this respond to is a threat to the bottom line—damage to their reputation that will hurt them among potential customers as well as job applicants.

      3. Nicole*

        +1! I would definitely want to know what this place is like before taking a job there (which, knowing what I know now, I absolutely wouldn’t).

      4. BluntBunny*

        Yes agree with all the above I remember I had a telephone interview for a very large company. I had applied the year before for a different role so knew of them but was doing some glass door research the week before the interview. There were lots of reviews that mentioned bullying many were recent and many were from managers. This was a graduate internship so I wondered whether I could just stay there for the 2 years and then apply else where but that the job was in a location far from my friends and family. There weren’t many other companies nearby either that I would want to work for so I would essentially be moving for a job rife with bullying and if the mangers thinks it’s bad it’s going to be worse lower down the chain I decided it wasn’t worth it. As a WOC I would really appreciate knowing that a company is hostile to women and anyone non-white and imagine LGBTQ as well, though I doubt this company is selecting anyone that fits that category for interview anyway.

  3. SD*

    “But, the only good news about the COVID pandemic is that I will never, ever, have to worry about, or apologize for, avoiding a handshake again now!”

    I am also hoping for the end of having to hug every person you meet. I’m good with hugging my family, in fact we are a pretty snugly bunch, but random friends and acquaintances? No, please no.

    1. Megumin*

      One of my former coworkers was a hugger, a back-rubber, a hand-holder….she was very sweet older lady but yeesh. I’m totally okay with not ever shaking a hand again!

      1. New Job So Much Better*

        Yep, only silver lining in this pandemic. Never shaking again.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It really won’t be the end of this touching. People are already pushing back and avoiding public safety requests. I’m not convinced anything is really going to change long term. I keep seeing people still touching their faces, wearing masks wrong, refusing to wear masks, rolling their eyes at handwashing, etc.

      But yeah, I’m the same way. I have very few actual friends, so I don’t mind hugging them. I don’t have “random friends”, lmao. Thankfully even huggers are put off by my resting “try-me” face.

      I had an older lady actually approach me very gingerly at bowling years ago and ask if she could give me a hug because she’s like “You don’t look like someone who does hugs.” I gave her a hug because I liked her :P

      1. tangerineRose*

        I hope handshaking goes away, but yeah, it probably won’t go away entirely.

      2. Elaine*

        I remember when the AIDS crisis was new, thinking that, awful as it was, at least it put a stop to indiscriminant social hugging. And it did for a short while. And not too long later, it was back bigger than ever. I expect the same will be true of shaking hands. Better to rely on friendly verbal refusals, as Alison recommended, than to count on people just stopping.

        1. Clorinda*

          But you can’t catch AIDS from hugging, whereas you CAN catch covid-19, so there’s at least a chance the hug-me culture will change.

        2. no apples today*


          The AIDS crisis put a stop to “social hugging” because of homophobic rhetoric. It had nothing to do with the disease, and everything to do with bigotry towards a community that was already ostracized.

          1. Elaine*

            True. But at least in the early days the public did not understand how it was transmitted, and a good many simply refused to believe evidence because it did not fit their world view. There were plenty of instances of AIDS patients/people HIV positive who were not gay and were still shunned, including children. There are so many people wrapped up in the symbolism or tradition of shaking hands that I would bet they’ll go back to shaking hands. I think heading off handshakes courteously will be more effective than just thinking it will not be an issue ever again.

      3. Jedi Squirrel*

        Yeah, some people are being really stupid about this. But natural selection may have something to say about their behavior.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Except natural selection won’t necessarily take out the people who aren’t still touching people. It’s going to take out plenty of the “no-touchy!” crowd more so.

          As long as it only effects a “minor” portion of people, there will be jackholes will will cough or spit at you when you try to correct their risky behaviors.

          Someone has already been shot over trying to enforce people wear masks in certain areas. People are literally dying of this virus and also of the actions of others who want to still call it “fake” and “a government pull for power” or whatever.

          So yeah, I’m not banking on natural selection for anything when this is concerned!

          1. Jedi Squirrel*

            Yeah, there have been a couple of terrible incidents in my state, including the shooting of a security guard. It’s so sad.

        2. LisaNeedsBraces_DentalPlan*

          “The Man, Becky Lynch” already said most of what I wanted to say, but I also wanted to point out that even if those who don’t wear masks or have Covid parties couldn’t spread it to innocent parties (which they very much can), “natural selection” wouldn’t “solve” this problem. First of all, because natural selection means the tendency to spread genes and not individual survival (or even “survival of the fittest” which an economist coined, not Darwin). Second of all, there are a lot of factors of natural selection (the tendency for the people flouting CDC rules to be young enough to survive Covid and be child bearing age if not already parents) and artificial selection (the tendency of that group to be economically privileged, and systematically recognized and prioritized by the medical community) in their favor. And finally, because stupidity doesn’t and shouldn’t have to be a death sentence.

          All of this is to say that we need to care about those who are making this worse and not count on some “evolutionary” corrective force. And of course, since I may have gone too off-topic, even when there isn’t an active pandemic, OP has the right to maintain personal boundaries.

          1. Avasarala*

            Totally agree. We can’t rely on “survived long enough to procreate” as vengeance for not following hygiene protocol. That’s not how evolution works and it’s so utilitarian it’s cruel.

    3. Handshake Hater*

      I’m with you on that. You don’t know whether a huggger has previously hugged someone with Covid!

    4. MusicWithRocksIn*

      I am very affectionate with close friends, but I cannot stand people who want to hug me the day they met me. No dude, we met today, we are not there yet. I need to know you longer than a fishfly lives before we are at hugging.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        I suspect you meant fruitflies? And yes, I am not a “hello means I hug you!” person (except with my mom and wife). At. All. And I like hugs! And I have some very alternative-type friends who can be woo-woo and huggy! But if I’ve only just met someone I don’t feel like squashing my breasts into their body, y’know? I say No thank you and smile and leave my arms at my sides and maybe even take a step back and it seems to work fine. (And if it’s bothering them, well, I’ve got a little bit of neuro-atypicality going on and I often don’t even notice.)

    5. Sara without an H*

      I was browsing through the AAM archives the other day while eating lunch, and ran into a post about how to manage an employee who insisted on hugging virtually everyone who walked into the office. So I wonder — how are habitual huggers coping in this environment?

      I’ll go back and look for that link, and maybe bring it up in the Friday free for all.

    6. LilPinkSock*

      I used to work with a group of people who pride themselves on being very sophisticated and cosmopolitan…which to them meant every greeting required a two-cheek kiss. I’ve always been a handshake-is-the-limit kind of gal anyway, with a hug reserved for family and very dear friends, so I confess I’m not sorry that this kissing business will likely end.

  4. J.B.*

    OP1 – I am so glad you took the high road and are in a much better place now. Some things really aren’t worth it.

  5. Blueberry*

    OP#1 — I’m really glad to see an update from you. I remember your letter very keenly, and I’m glad you’re personally doing well and out of that awful workplace. Sometimes, I think, we have to just hope that the words and ideas we left behind us are silently settling into people’s minds in ways that will eventually change things for the better, though we may never find out ourselves whether or not.

  6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    #1 I’m glad you’re out of there. I’m sorry this happened to you, it’s extremely difficult to deal with and I know that on a personal level. You will bounce back though, people who thrive in leadership get caught up in the wrong places a lot of times. They’ll leave some scratches on your way out but they heal over time. Private consulting is a great way to rebound and shake off that old nasty place.

    When it’s time, you’ll find another spot that you fit in and your vision is appreciated in.

    I’m glad you detached and didn’t even bother with the Glassdoor scorched Earth route. That may feel good in the moment but after awhile, it’s seriously just not worth it. Leave them in the dust, let them just fail on their own. So long, bye bye, suckers, style.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      That may feel good in the moment but after awhile, it’s seriously just not worth it.


      It always feels good in the moment, but can leave lingering regret for a long time. (“Will they figure out it’s me?”) It’s always better to take the high road. Living well is the best revenge.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        And it’s not just “will they figure out it’s me”, you think about. You think about “Will someone else that I actually care about find this? Will it look bad to them? Will I look like a deranged former employee just being spiteful?”

        I still won’t share stories or insight into my former job nightmare, even though I have the respect and most of all, trust of my current employer. What if they found that just lurking around at things? No thanks! Leave no traces of your awful experiences in that kind of manner unless you would share it face to face with a semi new colleague or boss. That’s why I frequent blogs/boards because yeah it could still be found but it’s not as traceable as something directly attached to the firm.

      2. DapperDev*

        I don’t know if I agree – it sounds like this company wasn’t a resource to use as a network anyway. They’ve taken a conservative, exclusionary turn. People who interview with that employer deserve to know what they’re expecting. Glassdoor literally exists because there are companies that operate unethically, but it’s getting harder and harder to get candid information in a large job market.

        If I were the LW, I would wait 6 months or so and then submit the Glassdoor review. It’s so SO important to provided that kind of candid information. I literally check Glassdoor before submitting applications, and there are quite a few toxic companies that Glassdoor has single-handedly saved me from. It’s so important.

      3. lazy intellectual*

        Eh, I left a review of my last employer – a bad one, and I don’t regret it. FWIW, my complaints are like many others so I highly doubt they know it’s me. Even if they do, I don’t care.

    2. epi*

      I totally agree.

      When I experienced harassment and retaliation for reporting it, it seemed unthinkable to stop fighting my individual case and “let them win”. But I did eventually stop, and got involved in more general organizing on that issue instead. Trying to help other people going through the same thing and get institutional changes made to stop it from happening again.

      It is better on every level. I care deeply about this issue because of personal experience. But because I don’t feel personally, individually threatened by every step in the process anymore, I am actually able to be way more effective with less of a negative impact on my mental health. The work has been healing instead of draining. I have new allies who will never treat me the way I was treated before. And even though I don’t believe it should be this way, I personally think my choice makes me appear more credible to anyone who does hear about what happened and the lies that were told about my character. There is no way my current work could result in any score settling. My narrative is that of someone whose life was changed by what happened to them, and got involved in a new form of activism as a result. Not exactly the actions of someone who is just oversensitive or made it all up.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I will say that harassment and retaliation are another beast to call someone out on! That’s illegal stuff and even though people will have their skewed point of view as an outsider, they’re crimes and there’s a reason why they’re punishable by the courts.

        That’s a very personal thing and if you feel better after dropping it, I support you. But I’ll also support people going scorch Earth on that side as well.

    3. lazy intellectual*

      I recommend leaving a Glassdoor review if it is not too emotionally or psychologically taxing. It doesn’t have to be a rant – just an honest assessment of their culture and lack of diversity. Potential job candidates deserved to be warned. I’m kind of tired of people assuming that Glassdoor reviewers are a bunch of whiners. If people take time to honestly assess their companies and salaries, it can be a very useful resource.

  7. Jedi Squirrel*

    I’m with LW #4. I hope shaking hands will disappear forever.

    I’m all for bowing, Airbender style. #ATLA FTFW!

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        Season 3 really was the best. I’ll never forget that play they went to.

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          “MY HONOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” :D

          I am so excited it’s coming to Netflix! I know what I’m bingeing next. I’ve been wanting to re-watch ever since I discovered the ATLA sub-Reddit.

    1. TiffIf*

      My friends and I are doing “Live long and prosper” with the Vulcan salute.

            1. Jedi Squirrel*

              Yes, that is exactly it.

              There’s even a Unicode character for it:

              Live long and prosper!!!

              1. Queer Earthling*

                The typed version used to be \\//_ when unicode vulcan salutes weren’t an option.

      1. Mimi Me*

        My friends and I , all Broadway Musical junkies, do “jazz hands” at one another. A few of us even add a little bit of extra flair to our greetings. :)

        1. IL JimP*

          I can’t get my fingers to do the Vulcan salute no matter how hard I try, any suggestions?

          1. K*

            Nor can Zachary Quinto. If you see him Vulcan saluting, his fingers are glued. They used a hand double at various points in the three reboot films.

            I love it but my hands are so small that usually it goes unnoticed.

          2. Rainy*

            Press your index and middle fingers together as normal (like, think “squeeze together, fingers!”), and then with your other hand, hold your pinky and ring fingers together and move your index/middle unit toward your thumb as you immobilize the other two. (IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP: if doing this hurts, STOP IMMEDIATELY.)

            Practice this for 10-15 seconds a few times a day on both sides. You need to build a…it’s not quite a muscle memory, but that sort of thing. Like learning to raise one eyebrow by holding the other one down to develop independent control.

            1. Princess Zelda*

              If you’re having trouble getting it, try putting a pencil between your middle and ring fingers — putting the physical barrier there helps get your hands where they need to be.

          3. allathian*

            I used to play guitar as a kid for a couple years, so the Vulcan salute is easy for me with my left hand. I can do it with my right, too, but it takes a lot more effort.

      2. Alex the Alchemist*

        Y’all are giving me better ideas; the last time I had to figure out a non-handshake response was when I was at church during flu season last year- ended up doing a lot of finger-guns during the passing of the peace.

      3. Nervous Nellie*

        I am doing the ‘Spock salute’ too, and am flying my nerd flag proudly, because I have been doing that since the mid-70s. Live long and prosper, AAM friends!

  8. Bunny Girl*

    #3 – Hell yeah I’m going to stop shaking hands too. I’ve realized with this pandemic how few people washed their hands (well at least) after they used the bathroom and now I’m just all good on that.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Yep. The number of people who flush the urinal and just walk out the door turns my stomach. Ugh!

      1. Clorinda*

        My mind was blown by the comments on Washington Post on that column today. So many men: “But it’s really clean, so I don’t need to wash my hands!” Even now. Even today.

      2. Bunny Girl*

        Why do y’all need to be told to wash your hands after handling your wang wtf.

      3. Jean (just Jean)*

        Time to pencil “projectile vomit, starting now” into my daily planner.
        Blechh. Ick. Yucko.

      4. chi type*

        Wow. (I think) I remember a letter where a woman tried to say women don’t need to wash because they (theoretically) only touch clean TP. Jesus, people

    2. MistOrMister*

      I never exactly HATED shaking hands, but so many people do the limp, wristed, make you feel like you’re wrangling a dead fish handshake and that squicks me out. I am also grabbing hold of this opportunity to banish handshakes from my life!!

      And yes, the people who don’t wash after the bathroom….dear god why?! Or the ones who think rinsing with water is enough. Rinsing your grapes with only water is fine. Rinsing your pee/poo hands with only water is an affront to the world!

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Right? When we were still in our office they had to put up instructions on how to wash their hands. I was just like… Why weren’t y’all doing this?

      2. allathian*

        I admit to having been sloppy with hand-washing at work before. I always rinsed my hands for at least 10 seconds, but only used soap if they were… soiled. The institutional soap at the office played merry hell with my skin and I wasn’t willing to cope with that. But when we go back to the office, I’m going to keep my own liquid soap bottle on my desk and use it whenever I can, and use that institutional soap when I forget. At home I’ve tried to set an example for my son who’s 10, but if I’m honest, I think he’s at least as diligent about washing his hands as I am about washing mine. I really hope this habit sticks with him, because it’ll serve him well all his life.

  9. Susie Q*

    I’m glad OP #1 is out of that workplace.

    But what would OP filed a lawsuit about? I’m very confused.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There’s some legal fodder in this part of the original letter:

      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…

      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.

      1. Yep*

        Wife of a “conservative white man” here, I guarantee that he would most definitely NOT be comfortable with a company that didn’t treat their employees as equals and hire the best people regardless of gender, race, religion or whatever else. Conservative doesn’t mean hater. So that company may not catering to their customers like they think they are. Everyone (except for a few but job outliers) prefers diversity these days.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          I don’t know that we can say that the only folks who don’t prefer diversity are outliers. A lot of folks might pay lip service to it, but don’t do any actual work to make their workplaces diverse. And a few folks genuinely believe there’s a ‘meritocracy’, and selecting employees by anything other than one single metric means your workforce will be substandard.

        2. Aquawoman*

          The “hire the best people” mindset has kept plenty of black and oppressed folks out of jobs. Because then it often comes down to things that are stand-ins for whiteness or the privilege that usually comes with whiteness, like unpaid internships or “cultural fit” or attendance at a certain college that has generous legacy admissions. It’s not a choice between “haters” and “diversity.” Inclusion doesn’t mean “hiring people regardless,” it means examining privileged expectations and dismantling them. Diversity only means you hire black and brown folks/women/etc, not that you keep them.

          1. AMT*

            Absolutely. The question we need to be asking is not “do we have anyone on staff from historically underrepresented groups?” but “do we do anything in our hiring, or on the job itself, that excludes or alienates such people?”

        3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          For this purpose, it doesn’t matter whether they’re making their conservative clients comfortable by illegally discriminating, versus that being a excuse for their desire to illegally discriminate on racial grounds. What matters is that they are consciously and deliberately discriminating on racial grounds.

          Nor does it matter, legally, whether many people or only a few outliers actively want an all-white workforce. (It does matter practically, because elected officials and bureaucrats who want to discriminate will defund the agency that enforces equal opportunity laws, and quietly dismiss or “lose” discrimination complaints.)

        4. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

          “hire the best people regardless of gender, race, religion or whatever else.”

          Do you know this both a very common excuse for lack of diversity in the workplace:
          “We don’t see race/gender/sexual orientation. We just hire the best people.”

          1. Julia*

            And how you do measure who’s “the best”? Does Lucinda get points taken off for being out on maternity leave? Does Muhammed get points taken off for constantly “being out of the loop” without factoring in that half his co-workers refuse to provide him with information he needs?

  10. jamberoo*

    #3 I thought of you early on during this pandemic, maybe even chortled from my home desk thinking of your possible update. Yay here it is!

    1. Handshake Hater*

      My company is going to give a welcome back pack to the early returners, and it’s going to include, at my suggestion, a stylus for use on elevator buttons!! HA!!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I had to go in briefly to the partially open building (for what this long-ago Shadowrunner dubbed a data retrieval mission) and realized how bloody many doors are turn-and-pull. Foot pedal suggestion went in immediately.

        1. Handshake Hater*

          Just a tip from an old pro: take advantage of automatic door openers for the disabled when you can.

    2. Hills to Die on*

      I thought of OP too, and the other commenters who are non-handshake, non-hugging. I am a toucher, but not at the expense of the recipient’s comfort, for heaven’s sake! My kid is very anti-touch so I think of no-touch folks the way I think of her. Thoughtful and loving, but not in an in-your-face way. I’m glad this helps you all. Peace, love, and no germs to you!

  11. I Will Steal Your Pen*

    Handshake OP: I am with you – of they abolish the handshake like Dr Fauci is recommending I would be on cloud 9. I am not a germ-phobe as much as I just think some people are gross.

    And maybe it is just me, but fist bumps (which is what some people think we should replace it with) are not at all professional. I equate them to sporting events and other causal encounters.

    1. Handshake Hater*

      Also the elbow bump substitute. No way am I going to do that awkward thing. It’s still too close to people with the covid still out there.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        A warm verbal greeting is just fine for everyone and communicates the same thing. As I said above, I am a hugger and physically affectionate person but there’s no actual NEED for it in professional environments. Let’s just say hello and leave it there!

        1. Secret Squirrel*

          Agreed! Why do we need to go beyond a verbal acknowledgement? I’m not a handshaker. At work I’ve always given a warm hello, good to meet you/see you again, etc. and don’t make any move toward the person that could be construed as a handshake. People seem to read that fairly well. The elbow bumps, bows, hand gestures like namaste, etc. are unnecessary!

      2. Little yellow spider*

        Agreed! A fist bump seems so out of place in a professional setting, and that elbow thing just looks/feels ridiculous. We don’t need to touch each other!

    2. Ali G*

      Fist bumps are problematic – what if you don’t blow it up and the other person is offended? Better to stick to the elbow bump :)
      Such are the pitfalls of the new normal!

    3. Yep*

      I like the small bows that many Asian cultures use. No touching and very respectful of each other.

      1. Resting easier now*

        I have long wished we could all change to the namaskar/namaste greeting.

        1. James*

          I used to do Medieval re-enactment, and bowing is part of the culture in the group; you don’t even think about it anymore after a while. Apparently when I first started, I carried that habit into the work world. I’d do a small bow and back away to leave the room, instead of just walking out like a normal person. I didn’t realize I was doing it until a manager told me to stop.

        2. Doc in a Box*

          As a person of Indian descent, I have mixed feelings on that suggestion. I’ve endured way too much mockery by white folks doing a head-waggly Apu impression to be able to feel comfortable with namaskar outside of the very specific context of being at temple or at some Aunty-ji’s house.

          1. Resting easier now*

            I mean no offence.
            I spent some time in Nepal and India way back when. I appreciated not having to shake hands with everyone I interacted with. It just seemed like a respectful greeting, the locals all practiced it with us westerners. I was sad to return to handshakes upon returning to the US ( I’m mildly germaphobic about handshakes).

      2. anon for this*

        I am fully on board with the subtle bow greeting. Hygienic, and also feels more respectful. I’ve always thought handshakes were a bit of a power play.

      3. Astor*

        Just commenting that my Jewish education was very clear that we can only bow to G-d. It’s not even okay to bow to seemingly nothing; you should literally only bow in prayer to G-d.

        I’m secular and don’t believe in god, but this is one of the rules that I internalized and is part of my identity. Others may not have learned it in the same way, or might not care in the same way, but I wanted to make sure that there was a comment explaining that there are some reasons why bows aren’t an easy substitute for everyone.

        I like a slow nod! I do hope we transition to something other than the handshake.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Stealing people’s pens will also lead to the same transfer as if you touch their hands, so you may want to rethink that ;) :)

      Especially if you knew that lots of people put those things in their mouths and use them to scratch itches…

      1. Handshake Hater*

        I have trained my boss to stop grabbing my favorite autopoint pencil !

      2. James*

        I keep two pens on me (in different places): one for chewing on, and one for poking dead things (occupational hazard). Very important to not confuse the two! On the plus side, no one steals my pen a second time.

    5. Mimi Me*

      I recently saw a video of PM Justin Trudeau greeting a Muslim woman. I don’t know how accurate the description of the exchange was – Muslim women can’t be touched? – but I loved the greeting itself. He laid his hand on his chest and bowed his head slightly in greeting. She smiled back and did the same. I thought that would be a great greeting in social / work settings. It’s respectful, non-physical, and each person gets to acknowledge the other. I use Jazz Hands for my friends, but I definitely will be using this the next time I am in a situation where I am greeting someone I don’t know well.

      1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        Many Muslim women won’t touch men they aren’t related to: she might have been happy to shake the hand of the current Governor-General, because they’re both women.

  12. epi*

    I am so happy to read this first update. I have been retaliated against for trying to improve how things were done at my organization and for reporting harassment and discrimination. That time when your morals and your identification with doing a good job at this specific job seem to meld is gut wrenching, it’s terrible for you, and it is so, so hard to see any other way things could be.

    When you find another way to use your values and commitment, it’s truly transformative. With time, it heals the damage from your old environment and makes you even more able to actually help others. It is awesome to read about this OP getting there.

    OP, thank you so much for all you did and are doing to fight discrimination and hate. It gave me a little hope to read about your new path today and I hope it brings you nothing but happiness and success.

  13. Lifeandlimb*

    #3: I used to think people who didn’t shake hands were a bit rude, but this pandemic has definitely taught me to be more open-minded about it!

  14. Cat*

    Nobody should be pressured into touch they don’t want. But people who shook hands and touched elevator buttons weren’t objectively wrong. The measures appropriate in a once in a 100 year pandemic aren’t necessarily the appropriate measures the rest of the time. (Though yes, hopefully this will get everyone to up their handwashing game permanently).

    That said, my personal objection to hand shaking is that people treat it as a weird personality test re how “firm” it should be, which is idiotic.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      I think that, like the weather issues caused by climate change, a 1 in 100 years pandemic will probably get compressed to 1 in 10 years. The world is more crowded and travels more. It’s just going to happen.

      1. Cat*

        I see no evidence for that, but it’s pretty clear we’re not on the same page on issues related to this from the discussions over the past couple of months.

        1. Grapey*

          We’ve had 3 major respiratory outbreaks in the past 20 years. SARS (2003), H1N1 (2009), and this one. The previous global respiratory pandemic was the flu of 1912.

          I think people will just be OK with poor/disadvantaged people taking the brunt of them, unfortunately, more than changing their social habits. Until something like affluenza becomes lethal, anyway.

          1. Mary Connell*

            You undoubtedly mean the 1918-1920 pandemic, but don’t forget two other influenza epidemics during the 20th Century, the 1957-1958 Asian flu and the 1968-1969 Hong Kong flu that killed more than a million each.

    2. tangerineRose*

      If we keep our cleanliness game up as we are now (no hand shaking, etc.), maybe we’ll pass around fewer germs in general.

  15. Anon342*

    #3 – Waving goodbye to handshakes is my tiny hill to celebrate on in the midst of all this pandemic horribleness.

    I have bad arthritis in my finger joints. I’m in my 30s but my hands look much and feel older. And it really, really hurts to suffer a bonecrusher handshake at work. I’m veering between a namaste-type bow or a hand on heart-type bow as a greeting.

    1. KoiFeeder*

      EDS instead of arthritis, but hard same. Some people really do seem to want to actively dislocate my fingers with nothing but pressure.

    2. allathian*

      My SIL is a Lutheran preacher. A big part of her job is to shake hands with the people she meets. She once had to sit at a meeting with an older man who was opposed to female preachers (the first women in her church were ordained in 1988) and one way he showed it was with a crushing handshake. Literally, as he fractured at least one of her metacarpals and she had to wear a support bandage for at least two months. She wore it longer than absolutely necessary, because it provided a reason to shake hands with her left hand instead. Nobody tried to crush the bones in her left hand, fortunately.
      Now, with COVID, her job is mostly remote or services in an empty church. She wears a mask and gloves when visiting the homes of vulnerable people.

      1. Blueberry*

        That man decided to inflict violence on a pastor was the christian way to object? Sheesh. I hope he faced some kind of consequence. I doubt it, but I hope so.

  16. Bookworm*

    #1: I don’t know if I saw that original letter, but I’m so glad you’re in a better place.

    #3: Yessssss. Agree! :)

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

    OP2: I’m glad your coworker went quiet, but I’d dread working with such a reckless diva. What if his account gets hacked, or he leaves and changes the password? I still remember the clueless social media person who got her Facebook account hacked, she lost lots of personal photos and credit card information and cried in the office for two full days.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Wait—how do you lose credit card information through Facebook? Can you enter credit card information on FB? And if so, why would you do that?

      Mind blown.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        You can. For any of the games/apps if you want to do purchases for them, if you have a page/group and you want to pay for advertising, that kind of thing. And keep in mind Instagram and Facebook share data, so if you’re like me and advertise through Instagram, Facebook also has that information.

      2. Pennalynn Lott*

        Facebook let’s people create charity drives. As in, “This is my birthday week and, to celebrate, I’m asking everyone I know to please donate $5 to the Underwater Llama Rescue Foundation,” with a link to donate — through Facebook. FB keeps a tally of all donations through the link so the people can see that $200 of their $500 goal has been reached. People get all warm and fuzzy, click the link, and hand FB their credit card info.

        I usually reply that I’ve donated x-amount *directly to the charity*.

        I don’t play any games or take any quizzes on Facebook. I don’t “login using [my] Facebook (or Google) account” on any sites that are not actually Facebook (or Google). Nope, nope, nopety, nope.

      3. Jedi Squirrel*

        Thanks for the explanations. Thank god I’ve never used Facebook all that much, or in that way. I had my FB account hacked once, but it was just a matter of resetting my password. Oh, that poor woman who cried for two days. I feel for her.

  18. Pobody’s Nerfect*

    Non-hand-shakers unite! I plan on never shaking another hand again. Or letting a stranger hug or high-five me. Hoping to be able to work from home forever on out. People are gross in general, now it’s a matter of life or death.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      People are gross in general

      I never used to think like this, except for living with two teenaged boys in the house, but I am coming around to this. You just never know how hygenic other people are or aren’t,

  19. La Triviata*

    In regard to the no touching – an Orthodox Rabbi once gave a talk at my church and I checked to make sure he could shake my hand before extending it (some Orthodox aren’t allowed to touch, even a handshake, an unrelated person of the opposite sex). He was very nice about it. As an alternative, the hand to heart with a small bow – right before everything shut down I went for an appointment and people were talking about alternatives and one person said they knew someone from … Tibet? Nepal? … who did that and thought it was a lovely alternative.

    1. KoiFeeder*

      You know, I’m glad I saw this, because while I don’t have an answer for you, I legitimately thought they were both the same country until I just googled it to double-check.

    2. Hazelnut*

      Can confirm it’s a lovely alternative. A Saudi chap came to my work place a couple of years back and that was the first time I’d seen the hand on heart bow. I’m doing my bit to make it a replacement for the handshake but it’s a bit of an uphill struggle here in nz :)

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