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DEEPLY OFFENDED

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

DEAR MOMENTS OF FOCUS: A colleague, and fellow executive in our company,makes

vaguely racist comments during social situations about the current news; she’s careful

not to say these things at the office. I am deeply offended, but I think if I saysomething,

our work relationship will be adversely affected. What’s my next step?

DEAR DEEPLY OFFENDED: We are sometimes put into places to deal with uncomfortable scenarios because quite frankly, we are the best suited for the situation.

We often hush the statements that should be made loudly and loudly state those things

that should be hushed. Being a fellow executive, you have the capability and voice that

your employees do not have. You can have a conversation that, although it could affect

your working relationship adversely, could favorably affect the working environment for

your entire staff. A subtle response from you could make a difference in the things that

your colleague says in the future. Most people who make public racist statements do so

because they feel comfortable saying what they feel, or because there have not been

enough people to make them uncomfortable enough not to make them. At this point

although she is having these conversations outside of the office, she is still technically

having them in an office-related environment by speaking to you as a fellow colleague. If

you and the other executives say nothing, her conversation will eventually trickle down to

your staff. To whom much is given, much responsibility is required and, as an executive

you have an obligation to protect the company’s interest. If something is said to the

wrong employee, the company could be exposed to a major lawsuit. My advice to you

would be to say when there’s some racist statement made, “I don’t think that’s an

appropriate thing to say and/or I don’t feel comfortable with that statement.” You don’t

always have to say a lot but planting a small seed can sometimes have a great affect.

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