updates: director is so bad that everyone is leaving, and more

Here are three updates from past letter-writers.

1. Director is so bad that everyone is leaving (#3 at the link)

In the last 3 months no more people have left and we finally managed to hire on a few people to manage the overflow. The director finally hired my coworker to be the new manager and even began to listen to reason!

I was still unhappy with the way things were going so I was passively job hunting. I had a few interviews and landed a position at about a 10% bump from what I had been making and possible annual bonus of 10% of annual salary. I told my manager I was leaving and he asked me to wait before announcing anything. He got together with the director and told him point blank that I was needed and to get me to stay. I had a meeting with my manager and the director and I laid out all the reasons I was leaving (money, politics, delays, director not committing to projects). The director was really understanding and is willing to make changes for everyone’s benefit. Then they went to HR and came back with a 15% bump in pay. So, I’m staying and I’m really happy. Not just about the money but because the director was open to hearing what I had to say and is willing to improve.

2. I’m the only black person on my team and it seems to be “business as usual” this week

First off, thank you again for responding to my letter and for forwarding some very thoughtful comments from other readers my way during a time when I felt so incredibly alone. Fortunately, I no longer work for that organization. In fact, I was interviewing the same week that George Floyd was killed which was incredibly difficult and I still don’t know how I managed to get through it. I’m pretty sure I cried from exhaustion after my Zoom panel interviews.

Unfortunately, that next company didn’t work out for a variety of reasons. I was again the only POC on my team, and one of only 2 Black people at the whole company, but when I joined, I was hopeful about their DEI efforts and asked a lot about that during my interviews. It turned out to be mostly talk. The CEO was very problematic and lacked self awareness even though he liked to position his company as a leader when it comes to diversity and inclusion. At one point they announced they were going to offer a larger bonus if we referred a POC that was hired into the company. That got shut down within days thankfully due to strong negative feedback.

So now I’m at my 3rd company in 2 years which definitely isn’t ideal for me, but I’ve still managed to perform very well and gain more responsibility with this new role. While I didn’t seek this out explicitly, this company is by far more diverse than any of the previous organizations I’ve worked for. I feel very comfortable here so far and fingers crossed it stays that way.

3. How do “interim” roles work? (#5 at the link)

I was offered the job another employee had been doing under the interim title, but we weren’t able to get to an agreement about salary and benefits, so I turned the job down. (And ended up very glad I did, since I got a promotion and big raise at my job a few months later.) I saw on LinkedIn that they did eventually fill the role with a new hire, so the “interim” person did not end up in it full time.

{ 102 comments… read them below }

  1. Mona Lisa*

    I would be very curious about another update from the first LW in six or twelve months. It’s possible the director could change, but I’ve seen companies say a lot of things in a counteroffer to prevent someone from leaving that are then completely forgotten about a few weeks later. I’d like to know if her director actually takes any of that feedback to heart.

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Seconding this.

      I took a counteroffer months ago. I’m now, you guessed it, job hunting again. Being generous, it will take a year for anything significant to change, and now I see this clearly, I also see I don’t have that much patience left.

      Then again, my partner took a cointeroffer at a past job and stayed at that workplace years before moving on. So, anything can happen. Yes, would love an update to this one!

    2. Pants*

      I agree. I’ve always been of the mind that counteroffers to stay are dicey. The company already knows you were looking to leave and landed a position elsewhere. Flight risk and all.

      Then again, when I’ve given notice to a company, there’s nothing that could make me stay there.

    3. Happy*

      I would, too! It seems unlikely that the director would go overnight from completely unreasonable to actively working to try to make things better.

    4. BluntBunny*

      Yes would like another update after and I’m curious to see what industry this is. Is the director rejecting all proposals because they are trying to push their own initiatives and vision?
      Working in STEM I can’t see why a director would reject most improvement and innovation projects. It so counterproductive and such a fundamental part of the role that the director must be clueless, incompetent or doesn’t care. They could be thinking the proposals would require extra money but improvement projects can bring it long term savings.

    5. Allura Vysoren*

      I’m also hoping for another update. It’s SOP at my company to counteroffer the world to employees to get them to stay–but then not follow through on any of the promises beyond an increase in compensation. It also has a heavy side effect of tanking morale for everyone else, because it starts to feel like the only way you can get management to listen is if you’re walking out the door.

    6. Cait*

      Agreed. I came here to tell the OP to tread lightly and get everything in writing. I’ve been in this position before only to have the rug pulled out from under me.

  2. 867-5309*

    OP2, just a comment on your concern about 3 jobs in 2 years… I am what most people would consider a job hopper – sometimes by choice and three times layoffs. Figure out your story when asked and if you stay at your current role a couple years, I wouldn’t let that make you nervous. (PS. I am a director at a publicly traded company so it is not been an inhibiting factor to my career trajectory.)

    Glad to hear you’ve found a spot that feels promising.

    1. Gracely*

      I would say that if you had to pick any time to risk being a job hopper on your resume, the last couple of years would be the best time for it, since anyone can pretty much use “well, with the pandemic” as a reason that everyone will (or should) understand.

  3. Not Trying to Start a Fight*

    Why is a larger referral bonus for POC a bad thing? It seems like it would increase diversity to your recruiting pool.

    1. dresscode*

      I don’t know if it’s necessarily a bad thing, but it gives affirmative action vibes which had not great connotations.

      1. Sweet Christmas*

        There was nothing wrong with affirmative action. It has “not great” accommodations because the opposition launched a very effective smear campaign against it.

    2. Daisy Gamgee*

      The optics, as they say, are terrible.

      Offering larger referral bonuses for POC hands a weapon to those who oppose diversity. They can call it “reverse racism” or use it to discredit their POC coworkers who were “obviously referred for the money and can’t do the job”, and so on. The backlash may well tank efforts to hire and retain POC at all.

      It’s a well meaning thought but a bad strategy for the reasons I’ve laid out and so many more.

      1. Sweet Christmas*

        This is the argument that many companies use to continue their discrimination against people of color – that the “optics are bad.” My company has launched an initiative to intentionally hire more people of color, and especially managers of color, and now a lot of the white men are complaining that no one can get promoted into manage positions unless they’re of color. Meanwhile managers of color still make up like 2-3% of our management workforce. And these folks never have any solutions, only complaints to try to stop the momentum.

        I’m a Black woman. People are always going to try to find reasons to argue that I am not qualified to do my job, because some people are racist. Even when there aren’t special programs in place to hire and promote people of color and women, we STILL get accused of sleeping our way to the top, getting positions because of our identities, etc. It has nothing to do with optics; a company could launch a near-perfect plan to increase diversity and some people are still going to get upset. It has to do with racism.

        1. Daisy Gamgee*

          I’m a Black woman as well, and I don’t materially disagree with you. In general, racists gonna racist, and that fact isn’t a reason to give up on tapping the deep ignored well of talent that exists in our community. I worry, though, that something that explicitly says, “We’ll pay more for a POC referral” makes it too easy for the racists to complain. Or is that too respectability-politics on my part?

          1. Sweet Christmas*

            Everyone is going to have a different opinion, but I think it is. I’m less worried about the racists complaining (they’re going to anyway) and more concerned about making actual progress towards equality and inclusion in the workplace.

        2. PotatoEngineer*

          I think my company split the difference pretty well: they require that all hiring pools contain diverse candidates, but they don’t require diverse hires. You really can’t put a thumb on the scales without raising the ghost of affirmative action, but guaranteeing that the hiring pool is diverse at least makes diversity more likely.

          I think diversity is up at my company over the past few years, but I don’t have the numbers handy.

          1. Emmy Noether*

            Hm, this seems kind of backwards to me. The company does not have that much influence over the hiring pool (at least the way my company hires, by publishing an ad in a portal and seeing what comes in). I guess it would be a good thing to think about how to reach a more diverse population in general, on a strategy level, but as a manager that is looking to fill one job, you get the applicants you get.

            Isn’t it more important that the diverse candidates that ARE in the pool don’t get dismissed out of hand (30yo married woman? will take maternity leave – out. Foreign sounding name? Does he even speak the language well? out.) I like anonymizing CVs for this purpose, or strict criteria where you HAVE to invite candidates that fulfill those. And I’m not against even incentivizing diverse hires, through quotas or whatever. I think of it as landscaping to even the playing field.

            1. Sweet Christmas!*

              Both are important. You can’t dismiss (or hire) candidates that aren’t even there.

              Part of the problem is exactly what you mentioned: many employers simply throw a job ad up on LinkedIn or some other portal, cross their fingers, and hope it will get them a diverse pool of candidates. But if your field is already not diverse, and you weren’t getting a ton of diverse candidates in the pool via that method before how on earth will that help? If your field is already not very diverse, that means that the process of finding and applying for jobs is probably, in some way, tilted against women, candidates of color, candidates with disabilities, etc.

              It’s not true that as a hiring manager you only ‘get’ the applicants that you get; there are all kinds of strategies that companies employ to find candidates with other skills that they want. We can employ or modify some of those same strategies for finding diverse talent.

    3. Important Moi*

      It is a bad thing because is adds the perception that POC are not equally qualified as others who are not POC. They’re paying more for POC! I can barely get the words out. I am sure someone will explain it better.

      1. Sweet Christmas*

        I don’t understand your explanation. First, the money doesn’t go to POC; it goes to the person who referred them (a “referral bonus.”) Second of all, more money usually means more valued – we often pay more money for hard to fill roles or offer larger retention or attract bonuses to people who have skills and qualities that we need.

      2. Bamcheeks*

        What do you think referrals are? They surely don’t mean bypassing a recruitment process in any company I’ve been associated with.

        The only thing it incentivises is making existing employees work extra hard to reach out to friends, family or former colleagues of colour to persuade them to make an application. The downside I can see here is that it wastes too many Black or minoritised applicants’ because they’re getting hassled to fill out an application for a job they aren’t suitable for— but I can’t see any downsides for the company.

        People who think increasing the referral bonus somehow means less qualified people actually get the job seem to be demonstrating either a lack of faith or lack of knowledge about their employers’ recruitment process.

        1. Important Moi*

          I am a black woman. I suspect older than you. I only add that as a data point, because you seem optimistic and have faith in the process. I am admittedly very cynical about efforts to increase diversity.
          For example, the company gets the benefit of having a diverse applicant pool but never hires any diverse applicants because they weren’t “qualified.” But there is evidence of a diverse applicants applying. I’ve seen that happen far too often.

          You and others have made good points.

    4. Presea*

      I would be very surprised if such a practice was in compliance with racial discrimination laws, which in the US apply regardless of the races targeted. I would also guess it comes off as condescending/othering/bandaid-esque, in that the bonus sends the message that the employer thinks people of color need more compensation to accept the job than white people, which is such an alarming supposition that it might scare candidates away if they’re aware of the practice.

      1. OrdinaryJoe*

        Oh … I didn’t read the ‘bonus’ as going to the candidate like a hiring bonus, I read it as a referrer bonus.

        1. Ellen Ripley*

          Intel did a similar program and yes, the bonus went to the person who made the referral, not the person who was referred or got the job.

        2. Presea*

          Ah, fair; it’s not a concept I’m super familiar with. I think my general point still applies, albeit reversed from what I said – a person of color being treated as inherently more monetarily valuable than a white person, specifically due to race, is just… so many layers of icky, as if the person’s racial background is itself a valuable qualification.

          1. Sweet Christmas*

            …but my racial background is a valuable qualification. It’s not a bad or icky thing to acknowledge that my race makes me different and that my company wants more people with it. We have to get away from the idea that acknowledging mere difference is offensive. It’s not. Treating people as *less than* is the problem.

            Besides, the whole point of this is that people are already essentially getting bigger referral bonuses for white people because they are the ones getting hired. It’s an effort to balance an already uneven playing field, not weight the balance in favor of people of color.

            1. Bamcheeks*

              >> but my racial background is a valuable qualification

              I just want to reiterate this and thank you for your work on this thread!

              If you think a diverse workforce is a good thing, you have to actually value diversity, not in an abstract, wafty way, but in a concrete put-the-money-on-the-table way. This seems like a pretty good way to spend money in a way that will actually increase your talent pool, and it’s shameful that so many people are wilfully misunderstanding it.

              Plus, if you accept the concept of referrals (which pretty much by definition encourage stasis in your hiring practices because they’re deliberately leaning on your existing staff’s social, familial and professional networks), the least you can do is ask your staff to be thoughtful and creative in how they use those networks.

              1. Tired social worker*

                @Bamcheeks (because I think we’re at the point where nested comments are not further indented)? – I’m so glad you made that point about how referrals themselves have served, in practice, to uphold a homogenous status quo. Yes, there will always be exceptions, so no one needs to come at me with anecdotes about getting their Black friend/relative/acquaintance hired. I do think a diversity-based referral bonus does have the potential to be implemented poorly, but that would be more a reflection on the people implementing it than on the concept itself.

                1. DJ Abbott*

                  I just have to mention the assumption – which sadly is often true – that people are friends only with people in their racial/ethnic group.
                  If everyone was open to being friends with people in other groups, that would go a long way towards diversity.

            2. Emmy Noether*

              Thank you! If we accept that there is value in diversity (which there most definitely is!), then paying more for someone that will increase diversity is logical.

          2. Daisy Gamgee*

            …but my racial background is a valuable qualification.

            You know, thank you a lot for saying this. This statement is a revelation to me, which just goes to show how living in a racist society can poison one against oneself. I’ve been thinking, “I want people to hire me despite my being Black,” but my being Black does contribute to what I can bring to any job. You’ve given me a lot to think about here.

            1. Bamcheeks*

              I do find it fascinating when people can accept that there is a loss or a deficit in a non-diverse team, but balk at the idea of actually recognising (and paying for) the value of the broader perspectives that a more diverse team brings. Like, even leaving aside the ust and moral case for inclusive practices, the business case for having diverse teams has been established over and over again. Which means that you’re recognising that people from underrepresented backgrounds are bringing knowledge your organisation doesn’t have, and are doing work that people who are over represented aren’t doing: you want them to be using their knowledge and lived experiences to change your organisation. But of course, that has to be done for free! Can’t be recognised financially!

              1. Sweet Christmas!*

                At least in the US, I think this is because talking about race at all has become so taboo. Even well-meaning, progressive folks are hesitant because they’ve been taught, somewhere along the way, that simply acknowledging difference is in and of itself racist. Sometimes, HR is wary because if done improperly it can verge into ‘we could get sued’ territory, so they get squirrelly about it.

            2. DJ Abbott*

              I’m so sorry you’ve had to feel that way! I hope you can turn that around and realize how valuable you are.
              If it helps, the hospital I worked at treated Black physicians with the same respect and consideration as whites ones.

            3. Sweet Christmas!*

              I’m glad! It took me a while to recognize it myself, but I can’t tell you how many times my presence in a room – or someone asking me a question – has stopped my company from doing something dumb and/or embarrassing. Sometimes I’ll notice and raise things they don’t even realize have societal implications – which makes sense, because everyone else’s background is very different from mine. And my racial background (and being a woman and queer) has also contributed a lot of other seemingly unrelated skills and competencies, too.

    5. Allornone*

      Yeah, I work in an organization where Justice, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are deeply engrained in the culture, in a city where the population is mostly minority. When hiring, HR does admit that they keep an eye out for candidates that might be of a gender or ethnicity that will help keep toward a balanced staff, but they don’t make firm choices on it. It’s just a consideration. We’re a non-profit that serves mostly a minority population, and it’s fitting our staff can understand and represent the experiences of those we serve.

      Plus, this policy makes POCs seem like unicorns or something. Look a black person! Hire him! It calls attention to race, when diversity, true diversity, needs to come organically.

      1. Allornone*

        oh, and I say this as an exceptionally white person doing my best to listen and not contribute to the problem.

      2. Sweet Christmas*

        …but we are unicorns. I’m the only Black female manager in my organization (which is thousands of people at a large tech company you have definitely heard of). I am literally a unicorn. There’s only me.

        If true diversity happened “organically” it would have happened already. That’s a cop out that people use so that they don’t have to change their practices. We don’t let anything else in business happen “organically.” We plan for them; we set objectives for them; we reward people for making progress towards them and review what went wrong and how we can improve when we’re not. Why should diversity in our workforce be any different? Why do people believe that we can just do nothing or do what we’ve always done and expect things to change?

        1. Anon Supervisor*

          I agree. POC shouldn’t be unicorns and companies can’t just passively hope that POC people will apply to their open positions or will organically seek out promotions. Orgs have to actively recruit and mentor POC’s and foster a culture where differences are celebrated and valued.

      3. Chriama*

        > diversity, true diversity, needs to come organically

        Uh, no. Race is a social construct. It’s something that society, deliberately or inadvertently, attached standards and values to. There is no way to undo that “organically” because it didn’t originate organically.

        It’s like people who say “I hire the best person for the job, regardless of race.” Well when generational systems of privilege have resulted in a very specific type of “right person”, you need to do more work to to change things. The myth of meritocracy perpetuates systemic injustice.

          1. Tired social worker*

            You are correct that racial diversity is not the only diversity – yet few other types of diversity are so easily avoided just by looking at someone, or seeing a name on a resume. It absolutely makes sense to implement initiatives for other types of diversity, some of which are already relatively common, yet still face pushback (I’m thinking of the other LW a little while ago who felt discriminated against because of professional development opportunities exclusive to women).

            If your concerns are about racial diversity initiatives being intersectional, then I share them. But otherwise, it feels like derailing to reply to a comment directly addressing racial diversity – in reference to a LW whose specific concern is race – by “all diversities matter”-ing the discussion.

              1. Sweet Christmas!*

                Perhaps, but so is Tired social worker. You’re on a community forum where people get to respond to your ideas, probe the meaning of your thoughts, and critique them.

          2. Sweet Christmas!*

            True, but most of the other identities that make up people’s concepts of diversity are also socially constructed.

    6. Mitsuko*

      I was somewhat gratified to see that POC would not in fact like this kind of ‘favoritism’. I am an Asian immigrant female, and it would grate on me if I was selected for a role mostly because I was a woman for example. I was rather pleased to have several highly qualified women apply for my open position ( I’m in a male dominated field) but it would feel really off if I rejected male candidates just because of gender (plus, happily, I usually can’t tell because the names are from a different cultural background). Everyone who applied is not white but not the group we are told to hire (ie they are extremely highly qualified Asian or Middle Eastern immigrants, not Black or Hispanic people who grew up in America). My colleague was saying we should hire the “right kind” of POC by offering them a higher salary (it’s really hard because <5% of people who have qualifications for our role are the type of POC that want more of) and I felt this was a terrible idea. I pointed out the legal problem, but it's not just that, it feels like just plain wrong. I didn't know how to explain why I think it's wrong without sounding racist. I just don't think… it would feel good to be paid more because of your race or gender.

      1. Sweet Christmas*

        Why would you assume that just because a company wants to attract more people of color or women that you were hired only or primarily because of your gender or race? I don’t make those kinds of assumptions.

        If a company paid me more or a higher bonus to attract me, I would assume that they value having diverse perspectives in their company and that they’re willing to put their money where their mouth is. That would feel good to me, not bad. I don’t understand why it would feel bad.

      2. Daisy Gamgee*

        I was somewhat gratified to see that POC would not in fact like this kind of ‘favoritism’.

        Phrasing diversity initiatives as “favoritism” isn’t really accurate. That phrasing assumes that everyone is on a level playing field, which is not the truth in the US, certainly. Instead, POC have lived under generations and generations of oppression, where we knew we were locked out of certain educational and career opportunities because “that’s how things are”. Current initiatives are an attempt to begin shrinking the resultant gap in opportunity.

        Also, well, POC are individuals, with individual opinions and minds. We don’t all agree, which I point out because I’ve seen people look for “what the Blacks think” as if we were one mass without minds of our own. For example in this very thread, Sweet Christmas and I, two Black women, had different opinions on the referral initiative under discussion. (Though I admit that her cogent arguments may be changing my mind.)

      3. Emmy Noether*

        Personally, I would feel perfectly fine with being paid more because I’m a woman. I would not feel fine being paid more because I’m white (though I don’t hear many men complaining about the wage gap, mmmh). Let’s not pretend this all happens in a vacuum where white people and men are as likely to be discriminated against as the rest and every policy has to be symmetrical.

        Leveling the playing field takes some effort of raising the lower side. It’s like we’re trying to bring wheelbarrows of earth to the lower side of the playing field to build it up, but every time, someone complains that there are no wheelbarrows going to the upper side. Duh.

      4. Liz T*

        That is a wild misinterpretation of the referral bonus.

        White people tend to refer other white people. That’s statistically inarguable. This bonus gives financial incentive for employees to work against the homogenous tendencies created by a segregated, white supremacist society.

    7. Goody*

      It smacks of racial discrimination (against non-POC applicants) to me. Or if not outright discrimination, at least preferential treatment based on race. I can see the company getting into very big trouble over this one.

      1. Sweet Christmas*

        It’s not racial discrimination. POC applicants already face racial discrimination. It’s just usually tacit, usually unintentional, and often unrecognized. The point of initiatives like this is to level the playing field that is already tilted against people of color.

      2. Daisy Gamgee*

        And here we have the very accusations of soi-disant “reverse racism” I was concerned about provoking.

      3. annonie*

        Companies can legally do all sorts of things to increase the diversity of their applicant pools. They can’t hire based on race but they can should deliberately work to increase the diversity of candidates they consider.

    8. Not Trying to Start a Fight*

      Sorry…I’m still not understanding the backlash. If you want to hire more POC, then you need more POC applicants. One way to encourage this would be to get your existing staff to be on the lookout for POC talent. A referral doesn’t guarantee they will be hired, so it does not lead to racial hiring preferences (unless the person doing the referral is also on the hiring team, but that is a bad idea for other reasons). Referrals are also notorious for being unconsciously biased because people refer others like themselves. This nudges your employees to look outside their primary circles.
      As for the Affirmative Action argument, why is that a bad thing. How is this different from the dude a few months ago who wanted to attend the minority seminars? Some people have been systematically disadvantaged and need some help to start leveling the field. If a company wants more POCs, then they need more POC applicants. It seems like this is a way for the company to put their money where their mouth is, so to speak.

      I am not trying to say the OP was wrong to be offended, just trying to understand why. This seems like a good policy on it’s face, so I must be missing something.

      1. Kell*

        In my experience, every place I’ve worked that offered referral bonuses only paid them out for the successful hire of the person referred (and sometimes even tied the bonus to them staying a certain length of time after being hired). They didn’t want you listing out 20 friends you know won’t take the job just to get a bonus.

        This bonus also gives me vibes of once again putting the burden on POC employees to change the company culture by referring other POC applicants, rather than higher ups doing the work to address the reasons why their company has not attracted POC candidates. Or, on the flip side if it’s a white employee that refers someone who is POC, we’re rewarding the white employee in this scenario? That also feels like not good territory to be in to me.

        1. Sweet Christmas*

          Why not? If a white employee is doing the work to get more people of color into their organization, why shouldn’t they be rewarded for that?

    9. Sweet Christmas*

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, personally. I’m a Black woman who works in diversity & inclusion.

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

      The way I see it, there’s a high risk of getting applications just for the extra money and not for diversity reasons, diluting the original intent of the bonus. Also, reducing the candidate to a box checked in HR’s to-do list.

      1. Broadway Duchess*

        Maybe, but if the application pool is more diverse, it’s more likely to lead to more POC getting interviews and then hired. You can’t hire people who are not there. I’m not sure if the reasons for referrals matter if it leads to the desired outcome.

      2. Daisy Gamgee*

        there’s a high risk of getting applications just for the extra money and not for diversity reasons

        Doesn’t the situation you describe require that POC applicants are necessarily of lower quality than White applicants, though? This discussion has changed my mind — I think that encouraging employees to bring in POC applicants increases the odds of finding more competent people, because I am pretty certain that we are as competent and have the same normal distribution of competence as any other demographic group.

        1. Chriama*

          > the same normal distribution of competence as any other demographic group.

          And yet, when part of the larger social group where we’re minorities, a lower representation. *That* is the point of diversity initiatives. To look outside normal recruitment channels, because certain groups are underrepresented there. People talk as if there’s always going to be a situation where minority candidate A is measurably less qualified than non-minority candidate B. In reality, 2 candidates are rarely equal, each come with their own valuable strengths, and comparing them is not as simple as going down a checklist of degree, years of experience, and concrete list of skills.

      3. BluntBunny*

        Referral bonuses are only paid when the person is hired. Most large companies already have it in place just for general hires at my company they aren’t guaranteed an interview. I can’t see the any downsides it would encourage people to increase the diversity of the applicant pool so that more chance of choosing someone from an underrepresented group.
        As a black woman I see a lot of comments like this are typical when there are programs and initiatives when there likely to make a huge step increasing diversity or racial equity. The view is “this is a step too far” “I’m for diversity but not like this” and going to the extreme where black people will one day be over valued. That day is almost never going to happen. I also find that we don’t get the same level of comments on things around gender diversity.

      4. Not Trying to Start a Fight*

        > high risk of getting applications just for the extra money
        Isn’t this just an argument against referral bonuses in general? If you are already paying referral bonuses, why not offer more for POC? And sure … if you get swamped with POC applications, that’s kinda what you were going for.

      5. Millie*

        Doesn’t the money only pay out if your referral is hired? My company pays out referral bonuses only for the candidates that were actually hired (and only after they’ve stayed for 3 or 6 months, can’t remember which).

      6. Aitch Arr*

        That’s an argument against Employee Referral programs in general.

        Companies have to have strong Employee Referral programs that work in conjunction with good Recruitment/Talent Acquisition practices.

      7. Sweet Christmas!*

        If I say that I’m giving an additional hiring bonus to people with a specific skill, does that mean I am reducing candidates with that skill down to a box checked?

        No. I’m going to look at the applicant pool looking for the other qualifications I want, too. Just because a person knows that skill (let’s call it statistical analysis) doesn’t mean that they have the other skills I also want (good communication skills, strategic planning competencies, etc.) I’m not going to automatically hire the first person that comes across my desk with the skill – I’m going to continue to mount my hiring process to find a person with the right combination of all the skills and knowledge I’m looking for.

        Similarly, expressing that you are looking for candidates of color or women doesn’t reduce those people down to that identity. Presumably, the team will still interview that person and look for the other skills and competencies. Assuming that a person of an underrepresented background is “reduced down to their identity” is an inherently marginalizing assumption; I know it’s unintentional in most cases, but it’s also very common for a team to see any white man as hired based on his merits (when white men have been hired for being white men throughout human history) and anyone else hired for their identity.

        I’m not sure why anyone would think a referral bonus tied to race would increase throwaway applications but a regular hiring referral bonus (that anyone could claim) wouldn’t. What raises the chances?

        1. Fae Kamen*

          Just wanted to say I started out conflicted about this, but I’ve been following your arguments and they make a lot of sense to me.

    11. Chriama*

      I wish OP would come back and clarify, because I’ve seen a lot of comments that indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of how systemic injustice plays out against certain groups in our society. I’m willing to accept that she had valid concerns for this initiative, but I have not seen one in this comment thread.

    12. Anon Supervisor*

      Because it doesn’t really get to the root of why POC are either not applying to your positions or getting hired and not staying. Just because you theoretically have fair hiring practices, doesn’t mean your recruiting is diverse.

      1. Sweet Christmas!*

        It could. If your recruiting is not diverse and you’re giving people an extra incentive to get out there and recruit more diversely, maybe your recruiting would get more diverse? I’m not saying it should be the only tool, but it’s certainly a valid one.

        Most teams and companies have no idea why POC are not applying to their positions and/or getting hired, because they haven’t asked or done any research on this. As a Black woman who works in tech, I have passed on applying to teams because I pull up their website and everyone’s a white dude. I can’t tell the difference between a team that realizes they’re not diverse but is actively trying to make a difference and a team that simply doesn’t care, and my psychological safety is most important. If that group (or someone from it) reached out directly to me and chatted and were sincere in their interest in becoming more diverse, though, I might choose to at least apply and see how it plays out.

      2. Fae Kamen*

        I think this is a good point, and there can be a certain cruelty in intentionally bringing someone into an environment that is not actually prepared to accept them. I see how the recruitment program alone, without any effort to address what it’s like to actually work there, could be ineffective for the company and damaging for the referred employees. But if it was a component of a broader strategy that included internal changes as well as recruiting, then do you think it would make sense?

      3. Liz T*

        Certainly this should not be the one and only thing a company does to increase diverse hiring and retention.

  4. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    OP #2, I’m really sorry it’s so hard to find a place where POC are supported and valued. I love my current company but that is an area we need to work on.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Yes I really feel for OP on this one. It can be a long and lonely journey trying to find a place where BIPOC employees are valued more than just on paper. I hope this new company is one of them.

  5. Say Their Names*

    OP 2: As the usually only black POC or one of very few in my company, I find that most organizations pay an awful lot of lip service to EDI, but not much else beyond that. I am not at all surprised they said all the “right things”, but talk is cheaper than what they pay that EDI Director.

    Personally, I find companies who are just diverse without a whole EDI position are a FAR more comfortable place to work than a white-run company with an EDI Director or committee.

    1. The Original K.*

      Yeah. In summer 2020, I was at an org with not much diversity, though I wasn’t the only Black person on the team. My then-boss kept talking about how bad the protests were for businesses – it was that kind of place. I kept my mouth shut, and no one asked me or the other Black women on the team how we were doing.

      I’m at an org (huge) now where I’m the only person of color on the team and there are only two others on the larger team (both Black, one man, one woman). There’s a DEI team but I’m not sure how much they actually do. It’s very lonely. I want to find a more diverse team next time around. I’m in a city where, frankly, lack of diversity is a choice, and I want to find an org that makes different choices.

  6. Cj*

    At first, OP#2 leaving the job he was at seems like it was because of the reason they wrote originally. But then they mention in this update that they were interviewing the week George Floyd died, which they didn’t mention in the original letter. If they were having interviews that week, they must have at least applied before Floyd’s murder.

    Which makes me curious why they were looking in the first place. Had there been earlier issues re: POC? They say their current employer is way more diverse, but they didn’t specifically seek that out, and if there were issues related to the lack of diversity in their other two jobs, I would have thought they *would* be specifically seeking a more diverse environment.

    Not that it really matters. I just get to wondering more details about these letters sometimes.

      1. Cj*

        Sadly, there have been, and continue to be, way too many. I’m mostly curious because he wasn’t specifically looking for diversity in a new job.

    1. Sweet Christmas!*

      Had there been earlier issues re: POC? They say their current employer is way more diverse, but they didn’t specifically seek that out, and if there were issues related to the lack of diversity in their other two jobs, I would have thought they *would* be specifically seeking a more diverse environment.

      Sometimes you don’t have a choice. It depends entirely on the field you work in and whether they have options. I work in a field where I am virtually never going to find workforce that reflects the actual diversity of our country or even just our city. My choices are basically “non-diverse team that doesn’t care about EDI” and “non-diverse team that does care and is trying to get better.”

  7. Salad Daisy*

    #2 my last position was at a large, multinational company. The site where I worked had over 200 employees and not one was a POC. This is in an urban-adjacent area. When I mentioned this I was accused of “white-knighting”. I had to look that up. So it was seen to be my problem for being upset. By the time I left there, after 8 years, there was still not one POC and there never had been. The company was not inclusive in other ways, such as making fun of people who were part of the LGBTQ+ community. Glad to be out of there.

  8. Clefairy*

    OP3- honestly, it’s probably for the best that you didn’t take that role! There’s a decent chance that the person holding the interim role may have welcomed you with open arms, BUT it’s equally likely that they would feel bitter about not getting the permanent role, and that’s an awkward position for you to have to step into.

    Just for context, I stepped into an Interim GM role at my old job 2 different times- this first time, it was in a different city, I lived out of a hotel for months (yes, I’m a past letter writer if that sounds familiar), and I had zero interest in the permanent role. The second time, it was at my home location and I had been doing most of my boss’s work before they left and I stepped up temporarily. My Regional Manager ended up telling me that, while they would consider me, they didn’t think I had the skills for the role, which was a bit of a slap in the face. I was pretty upset for a while. I stayed in that role for 8 months, and eventually I did realize that I didn’t actually want this role long term (and ended up being groomed for something totally different, which also helped) so by the time they hired my replacement, I was very excited for her to join the team and to get her up to speed…but had they hired her a few months early, I would have been really upset and hurt. I’d like to think I’d put that aside and still treat the new GM well, but honestly, idk. So yeah. Everything MAY have been fine, but it also may have been a minefield!

  9. Purple Cat*

    LW1 I sincerely hope you break the “rule” of not accepting a counter-offer. It does seem like the addition of your manager is helping, or at least buffering, the situation.
    Look forward to getting another update in a few more months.

  10. All Outrage, All The Time*

    RE LW#1, the original letter refers to “a very difficult week” and an “elephant in the room”. Is that referring to a specific event or just a way of saying “I had a tough week” or they were marginalised in some way?

  11. Xakeridi*

    I hope LW1 sees follow through. I once took a counter offer. After I accepted the counter I got a new boss and he casually told me “never take a counter offer.” It was the one thing he sas right about. He was a miserable manager who spent every dept meeting reading us management books and recreating the diagrams on out white board. Never again. If a company wants to change the shouldn’t need you threatening to quit to make it happen.

  12. Retired (but not really)*

    A former manager (who by the way is a blue-eyed blond with a Hispanic husband) told us about a job she had years ago where she was congratulated for basically filling two diversity spots since she was female and had a Hispanic last name.
    Which I’m sharing about because I see that company’s actions as a symptom of the problem of wanting to appear diverse without it being a real priority other than on paper.
    I’m sincerely hoping that the future will show progress in reaching genuine diversity in the workplace.

    1. it's me*

      I’m female and have a Hispanic last name (I’m not Hispanic) and I once went on a date with a guy who expressed envy saying it must be easy for me to find a job. Sheesh

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