Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Employee Doesn't Want to Participate in Events

DEAR HARRIETTE: We are having several events to celebrate Black History Month at my job. That’s all OK, I guess, but I don’t really want to participate. This is not because I am racist. I don’t participate in any of the other heritage events during the year, so I’m not discriminating. But these Black History Month events are much higher profile. I feel like I am going to be judged for not attending and possibly even called racist. How can I handle this and maintain a good reputation at work? -- No Celebrating

DEAR NO CELEBRATING: A critical part of being a team player in a work community is participating in the big events -- and often the smaller ones -- that are produced for the staff. The higher-profile events do bring more scrutiny in terms of who attends. Sure, you could tell anyone who asks that you don’t attend any such events. But I recommend that you adopt a more inclusive strategy. Think about the bigger picture.

You can go to events during Black History Month as well as the various other causes and engagements for a few minutes. Pay your respects and go on with the rest of your day. Those few minutes of socializing, preferably at the beginning of the event when the stakeholders are in the room, will be a far more efficient use of your time than explaining away others’ judgment of your absence.