I recently discovered a series of bigoted jokes while browsing previous years' annual reports to shareholders. A report from several years ago contained multiple paragraphs making fun of Muslims and members of the LGBTQ community. I was appalled to see that this content was published by my company. Moreover, it was disheartening to see that the report was signed by my company's executives and presented to our shareholders.

I've already anonymously reported the content through an internal system, and the annual report has been taken off the company website. However, I want to be certain that the views expressed in the annual report are not representative of my company or its leaders. To that end, I am planning on scheduling a meeting with several of the executives that signed the annual report, including our CEO.

Is direct confrontation an appropriate choice to address this issue? If so, how should I conduct this meeting? If not, what alternatives are available to me? I want to be a force for positive change within my company, but I recognize that this may adversely affect my career. Please let me know how to proceed.


"What is your role in the company? How high in the ladder are you?"

I'm early in my career.

"What makes you think you can schedule and conduct meetings with these people?"

Flat company hierarchy. It would be trivial to ask any of them for 15 minutes at lunch, for example.

"What if they are representative of the views of your company?"

Then so long as I'm an employee and/or a shareholder, I will try to change those views.

"If you are fired, will you have access to these annual reports? Seems like if I was the company, I'd just find some reason to fire you and make the issue go away."

These reports are still publicly available, but the one in question is no longer visible on the company website.

"Does your company have any internal diversity initiatives or committees, or members of staff who have spoken about diversity? It would help your position if it's not just you doing this alone"

No initiatives/committees that I'm aware of, but several other employees have seen the report and agree that more needs to be done. Perhaps establishing such a committee could be a goal of any potential meeting.

"'If not, what alternatives are available to me?' - purchase 1 share of company stock. Attend the annual meeting and speak about it when shareholders are given the microphone."

I'm already a shareholder. How would this differ from scheduling the meeting directly?

"How many is 'several years ago'?"

The annual report was published within the past ten years.

"Is this happening in the USA?"


"What are you trying to accomplish here?"

In my original post I said, "I want to be certain that the views expressed in the annual report are not representative of my company or its leaders." However, I believe I worded that sentence poorly. It would be more accurate to say, "I want to make certain that the views expressed in the annual report are not representative of my company or its leaders." I represent my company, and my company represents me. As such, I am trying to change the company culture to better represent myself and my coworkers. This report has damaged the morale of many new employees, and I believe it's in the best interest of the company to address this issue.

More like than not, the OP is a privileged and spoiled white person that has never faced consequences in their life. They are the epitome of privilege in this country.

Thanks for the comment. I've done my best to provide as many details as possible while minimizing the amount of personally identifiable information in this post. Please let me know if there's any more information I can provide that would help you answer my questions.

  • 2
    Does your company have any internal diversity initiatives or committees, or members of staff who have spoken about diversity? It would help your position if it's not just you doing this alone Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 6:56
  • How many is "several years ago" ?
    – AakashM
    Commented Oct 22, 2021 at 9:14
  • Is this happening in the USA?
    – Anthony
    Commented Oct 22, 2021 at 15:49
  • What are you trying to accomplish here? The 1% are good at avoiding consequences so unfortunately the ideal of releasing destructive information as you leave may not be ideal (even ignoring the idiocracy effect rendering that ineffective.) Commented Oct 22, 2021 at 18:10
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    @A.S if it's a small company (which the flat hierarchy suggests) then... well, a company is made up of people. If no one in the company does it, then it doesn't get done. If none fo the shareholders complain about it, then it doesn't get complained about. In a major company? This doesn't happen. In the sort of company where a new hire can easily grab 15 minutes with the CEO over lunch, though...
    – Ben Barden
    Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 19:26

6 Answers 6


From the company perspective, up to now, you have been an asset. You have reported something that could have hurt the company and they removed the risk at basically zero cost. Good.

But now, you are crossing the line from being an asset to the company to becoming a burden or liability. You want to incur costs (CEO time is valuable) for zero company gain.

So from the perspective of the company, this is a bad, bad move.

From your perspective... what do you think you can get from such a meeting? The CEO will probably say "yeah that wasn't smart, but HR already told you so, what do you want from me today?" I don't know what you want. Find out whether they are not as woke as you? Probably not. Will they openly identify as racist, islamophobic or anti-LBTQ+? Probably not. So what do you seek in this meeting?

To me (and most likely to your company, too) it sounds like you want a personal apology for doing something "bad". Where I would guess you weren't even effected, if you were muslim or LBTQ+ you would probably have said so.

So what they see is a peon of their empire asking the king for an apology for something "bad" they did years ago that nobody cared about for years until you came along. And even you had no negative consequences, you are asking for an apology on behalf of someone else that is not even asking for it themselves.

Any CEO I know of would do one (or both) of two things:

  • Let their secretary tell you nicely but firmly that the king (sorry, "CEO") has no time to speak with peons (sorry, "members of the great ACME corp community we built").
  • Set up a meeting with you and in parallel, ask your boss to be prepared to replace you on short notice.
  • 6
    Last point plus 1.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 9:40
  • 2
    +1 for the last point. I'd add that OP needs to prepare for leaving - if the higher-ups feel comfortable enough airing their bigotry to the shareholders (noted by the fact that they received zero backlash on this), they're not going to change their views just because someone on the bottom of the totem pole is telling them it is wrong. Unless you're EXTREMELY skilled at converting people to your cause. Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 13:29
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    @JulianaKarasawaSouza - Have to disagree with you on that. Even though they took it down from the web site, it is a public document and easily available and obtainable. I seriously doubt an executive is going to decide, because they have the power, to turn an earnest but maybe annoying employee into a disgruntled one with the ability and, after such an escalation, the motivation to basically ruin the company's brand, and the reputation of all the company officers who signed off on that report. Firing someone over this only guarantees that it will be broadcast to everyone, in detail. Commented Oct 22, 2021 at 16:28
  • 1
    "you are crossing the line from being an asset to the company to becoming a burden or liability," I get what you're going for here and while I'm kind of re-phrasing other comments I would point out that a savvy CEO would perceive this an opportunity to try and get ahead of potential media fallout. Lawsuits due to harassment, whether passive or active in nature, are very costly and while the cited report may be removed it's not gone. Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 19:48
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    @Pyrotechnical The report in question is literally years old, and is public (or was public; comments seem to imply it is no longer public, but it was a shareholder annual report and therefore not only public but widely-circulated). If the CEO was interested in "getting ahead" of anything, that time has long passed.
    – Ertai87
    Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 21:03

I want to be certain that the views expressed in the annual report are not representative of my company or its leaders.

I think your best choice would be to move to another company, if your values are not aligned with those of the company.

The content you find offensive was already published and signed by the executives. Apparently nobody raised an eyebrow for that, not the shareholders nor the executives. This tells me that there is alignment between the feelings and views of the executives and the feelings and views of the shareholders.

And even after you reported the content, it was taken down without any public apologies.

To me this sounds like either like a "hiding the dust under the carpet" or that the company doesn't care much about the possible damages to its image coming from those statements.

  • 6
    Wrong answer. If you work for a company that makes that kind of "jokes" in an annual report to shareholders, make as much noise as possible, send copies of the annual report to newspapers, and so on. Sure look for another job at the same time, but kick them where it hurts in the meanwhile.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 7:03
  • 3
    Or that the company values/values of the executives are aligned against LGBT and Muslims, and all complaining will do is mark you out as a member of a political group opposed to them.
    – nick012000
    Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 7:28
  • 13
    @gnasher729 If you want to go on a crusade, that's fine. But that's outside the scope of this stack. In fact, in acting in such a manner you are likely to go against the stated goals of the OP, and that is to find out if the company actually holds those values. If you make it public, you're just going to get some PR nonsense. Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 11:03
  • 23
    @gnasher729 you are awfully brave with someone else's career. Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 13:29
  • 2
    @gnasher729 Well, the answer doesn't even say that the OP should leave quietly, just that they should leave.
    – BSMP
    Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 17:04

Full disclosure: I fall into several "protected" groups.

In my opinion, this is problematic on several levels.

  • It's several years old.
  • The behavior stopped.
  • You will cause no end of grief to yourself, and to others.
  • You will achieve nothing

Some companies frown on public political activism within their company, and you may end up looking very bad. If you are not even in either of those groups, then your raising a stink may be seen as white-knighting.

Frankly, many folks in protected groups are tired of being infantilized by people getting offended on our behalf.

Has there been any active discrimination? Has there been any harassment based on immutable characteristics? Is there anything other than a years old document to get upset about?

If not, let it drop. There are bigger fish to fry.

  • 2
    @Richard U, I don't think the tone of this is helpful. Sure, there are folks who go overboard, but taking a stand against what be non company sponsored discrimination, should be commendable.
    – Anthony
    Commented Oct 22, 2021 at 14:58
  • 3
    White knighting has not been a problem, as it just looking out for your colleagues. Why would correcting a problematic culture be seen as insulting?
    – Anthony
    Commented Oct 22, 2021 at 15:00
  • 8
    @Anthony As for your first question, there is no evidence that it went past joking around. As for your second question: Have you ever stopped to thinks that we don't WANT your help? It's happened to me, and I said that I wasn't offended and this white-knight informed me that I should be. Think about that. Telling someone with a disability that he should be angry over a joke that he found funny? That implies that Ii am either too stupid to understand that is was insulting, or that I'm too frail to say anything. You really don't see how this is insulting? Commented Oct 22, 2021 at 17:54
  • 1
    @JoeStrazzere That's unprofessional, in bad taste, and I would certainly warn against it. But, this is literally years old, the behavior has stopped, situation rectified. Commented Oct 23, 2021 at 18:54
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    @JoeStrazzere What would pursuing the matter achieve?The allegedly offensive material has already been removed, and the behavior was stopped years ago. Worst case scenario and the OP was 100% correct, he or she pursues it, and she's done with the company, or, they cause an upheaval in the company and likely get a few executives fired, along with a few people laid off. Of course, none of this speculation is helpful, as we don't know what was in the report. Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 5:47

Is direct confrontation an appropriate choice to address this issue?

That's only a choice that the OP can make. They need to consider whether their values are more important to them than their current position.

You're currently in a position of trust as an employee, the organization has every reason to believe that you are operating in their best interest. The moment you push this, or try to question a senior employee, you will be seen as a external party risking the reputation and brand. If you keep your job, you will likely be under suspicion and may even have your access to systems revoked.

If you take this course you need to consider:

  • Are you willing to cut all strings with the organizations and employees?
  • Do you have a back-up plan if this has further consequences on your career?
  • Is the company popular enough for this to become have media interest where you are the focus of attention?
  • How far are you willing to push this?

You will go from being a team member to an activist. The company will be suspicious of you and may believe you have been only acting as a team player all along, ie. are you an investigative journalist or moral crusader. They may investigate you to determine this.

If the risk to reputation is large enough to the company it's likely you will lose your job. If you've broken any rules that the company can find they may dismiss you, if not they may attempt to buy your silence (if not already locked down) as part of a settlement package. Either way you won't have much leverage to push this, the company can always say that this is just sour grapes on your part. They will have the upper hand. It's very simple for them to say "You raised the issue, they dealt with it and planned further initiatives but after dismissing you, you have threatened to make this public". You'll end up looking like the bad actor.

My advice is to assess the company on how they are now. If they meet your current values your best placed to not push in this manner and continue to work with them. You have more power to affect positive change from the inside than locked out.


As this post is now over a month old I will assume that the meeting has taken place; however, if it has not then this meeting can be very constructive given the following premise:

  1. You are not calling the meeting to chastise anyone, but instead to bring attention to the fact that the information was published and available to a general public in a way that could be damaging to the company.

  2. If your company does not already have a policy against discrimination, use the meeting as a platform to promote the creation of one. Suggest possibly heading up the team that creates such a policy, as this will increase your worth to the company.

  3. In the likelihood that the reports in question have been already viewed by the public, your company will need to have a PR response prepared that covers how they have addressed the issue so that they are not caught flat-footed by their competition who may use it against them with negative press.

Your intention is to remain with the company, and that means you desire for the company to continue to grow and your concern is over the image of the company only. In today’s cancel culture, statements of the past could significantly damage their reputation, and you would like to work to prevent that from occurring in the future.


This answer is assuming that you are working in United States or a Western country, where there is more of a social stigma against discrimination. Like you, I find such behavior repugnant, and I am generally moderate in my political views.

That been said, I don't think direct confrontation via meeting is wise. I am giving the benefit of the doubt that your company executives are not being intentionally discriminatory, but that such views are due to ignorance. Your colleagues who said that more needed to be done are your biggest assets here. Forming a group where certain uncomfortable issues can be discussed openly is a first step. As a minority myself but who was raised in the USA for over 25 years, it's been my experience that while there are individuals and groups with hateful ideology, insensitivity is driven more often by stereotyping, trying to create a scapegoat, or pure ignorance. Your goal is not to directly tell people their views are unacceptable, but assume good intentions through raising awareness.

More generally, if you see another person being harassed / discriminated against , and that individual is unable / need help to defend him or herself, it should be fine to intervene. The idea that only a member of the discriminated class (racial minority, LGBTQ etc.) can respond is problematic as harassing behavior should not be tolerated at work. If the harasser says the victim does not care, you can say that you do and how it makes you uncomfortable. Assisting in creating a comfortable workplace for all should not be seen as savior behavior.

  • Unfortunately if you oppose open bigotry whatsoever, you'll be called "a SJW or ultra liberal or woke". I have been called all of those and worse despite being a staunch conservative, not even a moderate. I've worked in conservative industries my whole career, and always for large public companies, so I've seen many of these reports. Not once did these reports contain commentary about religious, sexual, or gender groups. Nor were such comments or "jokes" made in the office. Given laws in the US, many companies are wary of this kind of talk and don't allow it to fester. Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 22:33

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