100%. It’s hugely overlooked that middle-management is the maker-breaker of diversity at work.

As a younger Black female and neurodivegent (autistic, ADHD, gifted) employee I can attest to your argument.

Factor in that many managers are mediocre at best and/or don’t actually want to manage, they’re often almost negligible for someone who has outlier needs. In addition to my regular work, I had to divert time and energy teaching managers how to manage me.

I get the impression they assumed bringing in someone like me - often a first or only - would be like a low-maintenance office gold fish. Many managers don’t have a wide enough framework of the challenges or needs for outlier employees.


Diverse employees can be too “expensive”, too high-maintenance for managers. We’re set up to be professionally abandoned or fired.

Companies say they want growth mindsets and creativity but we know they don’t in practice. They prefer people who are reliable, obedient, and do a good enough not to overshadow the manager or get the manager in trouble.

I get the desire to want to make your work life easier. And easier too often means the aforementioned preferred employee description plus someone who is like you. I get that being a manager is already stressful as hell. The desire is neutral. Implementation is the issue.

I practice what I preach. I’ve coached 16+ tech teams that comprised people with worldviews and backgrounds different than my own. I’ve spent many, many hours upskilling, seeking advice, having deep dives, and otherwise endeavoring to ensure needs get met without stigma. It’s my job , so I do my job.

If nothing else, managers could be clear and upfront about expectations, assume people know they need to do the best job. And within reason, let them do what they need without questioning validity or acting ever so put-on. Take the guess work out.

But many managers don’t do this because of the common bias of thinking other people are like them or wish to avoid the obligation and and discomfort that comes with taking action. Moreover, if work is really about control and relevance, then many managers would view letting employees “take the wheel” is too triggering.

Also, another diversity killer not mentioned in this article is how common it is for these managers to cover-up their laziness by devising false narratives. So-and-so is incompetent, being “difficult”, and a body of other biased and stigmatizing labels that further compound harming for diverse employees.

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Change Amplifier | Just & Climate-Resilient Futures | Marzipan Enthusiast

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Abril Garrido Chivato

Change Amplifier | Just & Climate-Resilient Futures | Marzipan Enthusiast