As America transitions from having workers to having wokers, the Democratic campaigns have come in for criticism from former employees wanting to kvetch. Thus, from the New York Times:
What It Was Like to Work for Andrew Yang
He has called his campaign “the journey of my life.” But what got lost in the novelty of his bid, former employees say, was scrutiny of his life before this particular journey.
By Matt Stevens
Feb. 7, 2020
MANCHESTER, N.H. — The Andrew Yang on the presidential debate stage, the one who spoke about the need for more women in leadership and the lack of racial diversity among top-tier Democratic candidates, was the same person they’d once worked for.
But for some of his former employees, it seemed almost impossible to believe how far he’d come since a moment a few years ago when he told everyone at his nonprofit about a horror movie he’d read about.
Mr. Yang had been struck by an article about the film, “The Babadook,” which was written and directed by a woman and explores themes of motherhood. Movies like “The Babadook,” he told his employees, were in short supply and thus filled a gap in the market. If only more women were given opportunities, he continued — echoing an argument he made publicly around the same time in a 2015 essay — they would identify different problems than men and similarly help address market demands with their endeavors.
Members of the mostly female team recalled exchanging glances. To some, it felt as if Mr. Yang were discovering sexism for the first time and explaining it to them.
Seven former staff members, some of whom attended this talk, discussed the episode and other staff meetings in interviews with The New York Times, describing the conversations in general and the movie discussion in particular as emblematic of Mr. Yang’s behavior as a boss.
In his life before politics, they said they saw in Mr. Yang a man who was smart, had good ideas, was a persuasive speaker and was occasionally inspiring. But he sometimes stumbled in his dealings with gender and race, expressing what the former employees said were antiquated and unnerving views for a presidential candidate seeking the nomination from a Democratic Party that has been moving to the left. …
Some of his former employees see, in Mr. Yang’s unlikely staying power into the early 2020 nominating contests, not just an odd embrace of an outsider, but a casual disregard for allegations about how he treated women who worked for him. It is a collective shrug, they say, that they find all the more disconcerting given how explosive and relevant gender has become in the race.
At the same time, Mr. Yang’s cavalier use of racial stereotypes about Asian-Americans and what his former employees say is a surprising lack of attention to his record as a chief executive have also gnawed at those who say they watched their boss similarly fumble delicate topics and conversations for years.
… several women allege that he treated them unfairly when it came to compensation and employment; he once offhandedly remarked that the nonprofit fellowship program, Venture for America, might simply not be the best fit for black applicants;
Several people who worked at the test-prep company described a close-knit office of about 15 full-time staff members and several other part-time employees.
It’s like I pointed out about how the Gulen Cult had taken over the Turkish police via running test prep centers where they taught their members how to ace the police hiring exam, or how Chuck Schumer got his start working for Kaplan Test Prep: He who controls the test prep controls the future!
Mr. Yang’s support among men tends to outpace his support among women. And in recent months, claims of gender-based discrimination and harassment have surfaced among campaign volunteers, some of whom wrote a letter to Mr. Yang in which they warned of a “bro-culture problem.”
The Yang campaign said it was assessing the allegations, and would bring in an expert to conduct anti-harassment training. …
But not all of the women at Manhattan Prep felt that way. In September, a woman who worked for Mr. Yang there alleged that he had fired her because she had gotten married and he thought her work would suffer.
Mr. Yang and Mr. Vanderhoek have forcefully denied that Mr. Yang engaged in gender discrimination when he fired the employee, saying she was let go because of her job performance.
In an interview, the woman, Kimberly Watkins, said she was “not at all surprised” by what she said was Mr. Yang’s “knee-jerk” impulse to call her a liar.
“There is no data that I was not executing my job properly,” she said. “He promoted me and I hit every revenue goal, every marker set out for me.”
In November, a second woman who worked at Manhattan Prep alleged that Mr. Yang had engaged in wrongful termination and discrimination when he let her go after multiple discussions about her pay not being in line with that of male colleagues doing commensurate work. Her recollection was broadly confirmed by documents and by a co-worker to whom she relayed conversations about the situation at the time.
At various points, she said Mr. Yang had acknowledged that her pay was inequitable, but refused to increase her salary.
In a statement, a spokesman for Mr. Yang’s campaign said: “Andrew Yang has had the unfortunate task of letting staff go who did not meet the organization’s standards. The information provided by the letter-writer does not reflect the reality of the situation.”
His embrace of stereotypes that perpetuate the model-minority myth about Asian-Americans was sharply criticized in the fall over a proclamation he made during a nationally televised debate: “I am Asian, so I know a lot of doctors.”
Several former employees described being struck by the awkward and sometimes aloof way they said Mr. Yang talked about race. Venture for America had been forced to grapple with diversity and inclusion issues from the outset; the former employees said — and an analysis of information on the organization’s website confirms — that about 60 of the 100 people in the first two classes of fellows were white men, though over the years, the diversity of subsequent fellowship classes improved.
The employees spoke of a perennial tension around how strongly to prioritize diversity and inclusion when it came to selecting fellows. Five former V.F.A. employees recalled that as they were expressing concerns over black fellows’ struggles to procure job placements, Mr. Yang suggested offhandedly that the program might simply not be the best fit for black applicants — a remark that enraged some team members who say he later walked the remark back.
Some also said that Mr. Yang vacillated on whether to categorize Asian-Americans as people of color, an underrepresented minority or underprivileged minority, given that he said they were overrepresented in the start-up and tech worlds.
Mr. Yang confirmed the recollections of his former employees regarding the discussions about black fellows.
Hey, NYT, don’t you know “black fellows” is problematic?
He also confirmed that he had told his team it should not herald the diversity of its fellowship classes if the diversity amounted mostly to “a bunch of Asian-Americans who are overrepresented in the space.”
Speaking more generally on how to discuss the subject of identity in the workplace and on the campaign trail, Mr. Yang told The Times: “I do have very strong feelings and points of view on race. I understand my identity very acutely.”
“But,” he added, “I’m not sure if leading with that is necessarily the most helpful way to move any community forward.”