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Protocol | Workplace

By Michelle Ma and Megan Morrone
June 2, 2022

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. This just in: Look who’s Leaning Out. Today: Michelle has a Q&A with Alan Henry, author of “Seen, Heard, and Paid: The New Work Rules for the Marginalized.” Don’t miss the transcript from the book that we featured on Protocol last week. Also, we’re tracking the layoffs, hiring freezes and hiring slowdowns all in one place, how to hack your productivity through your eyeballs, and a new survey that says employees are leaving their jobs because they don’t feel like they can truly be their self at work (and lots of other reasons).

— Meg Morrone, senior editor (email | twitter)

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They’re not calling you a racist


Alan Henry has spent over 20 years writing about work productivity hacks for places like Lifehacker, The New York Times and Wired. But as a Black man, he realized pretty quickly that he couldn’t life hack his way out of being overlooked and excluded at work. Henry has a new book out June 7 called “Seen, Heard, and Paid: The New Work Rules for the Marginalized,” and it’s a step-by-step guide for how to navigate and succeed in a workplace when you’re underrepresented and marginalized.

Most people who are managers think that they’re good managers. And most don’t think they’re the reason their employees are dissatisfied. But there’s a disconnect somewhere when companies are having a desperate time hiring and keeping talent, especially employees who don’t belong to a workplace’s dominant group (aka straight, able-bodied white men, in the case of a majority of the tech industry).

Here’s the secret to managing (and retaining) underrepresented and marginalized people successfully right now, according to Henry:

  • Talk about and acknowledge that national events might be affecting them. It seems like every day there’s a new mass shooting or racist attack that is likely impacting employees’ ability to be productive and “bring their A game” to work. Henry recommends talking about the events as they come up and explicitly telling them, “I may not understand exactly what you’re dealing with right now, but I know it’s difficult, and I know you’re probably going through it … and if you need something from me, let me know.”
  • Make sure you’re creating a workplace culture centered on psychological safety. One practical way to do this is to regularly check in with your direct reports on how they’re doing, whether or not they like the work they’re assigned and how you could better align their assignments with their career goals. Henry recommends ditching the “open door” policy and actively scheduling these 1:1s instead, since the former puts the onus on the employee to come to you.
  • Don’t take it personally when someone calls you out on your behavior or actions. If someone points out that something you said or did hurt them or was racist, remember that they’re not calling you a racist, just the action. Just try better next time, and remember how difficult it probably was for that person to confront you in the first place. Thank them for pointing it out.
  • Be intentional about assigning and distributing both “glamour work” and “office housework” equitably. It’s often the case that the “loudest person in the room” is the one who always gets their ambitious ideas greenlit, while marginalized employees get burdened with the invisible but tedious tasks Henry dubs office hoursework. Disrupt those patterns and make sure everyone gets a chance at the plum assignments.

Read the full Q&A with Henry here.

— Michelle Ma, reporter (email | twitter)

Open URL

Feels like the dot-com bust all over again


Layoffs, hiring freezes and hiring slowdowns are all hitting tech companies (and tech workers) hard. Former Employment Development Department Director Michael Bernick told KTVU that tech layoffs are now at their highest point since January 2021, and they’ve come for both the giants and the startups. We took data from the crowdsourced Airtable chart at to graph the numbers of workers laid off and to find out which tech companies are letting the highest percentage of workers go.

Read the full story.


Hybrid work success looks different depending on who you ask. Your company is made up of a cast of players, each with a role critical to a competitive and thriving business, and with an eye on their North Star: employee happiness. How do you appease all those stakeholders?

Learn more

Supercharge your eyeballs


Want to trick your brain to read faster? Try Bionic Reading. It’s a service that bolds letters in certain words in order to “let the brain center complete the word.” You can try out the Bionic Reading Converter for free, or install the API with a freemium model.

— Lizzy Lawrence, reporter (email | twitter)

The Great Resignation will not be stopped


According to PwC’s Global Workforce Hopes and Fears survey 2022, workers are empowered, itching to leave their current jobs and desperate to talk about politics at work.

PwC surveyed 52,195 workers in 44 countries and territories and developed what it called the "resignation equation” to determine the biggest reasons workers are likely to look for another job. Compared to those who reported that they weren’t looking for another job, those who were ready to leave were:

  • 14 percentage points less likely to find their job fulfilling
  • 11 percentage points less likely to feel they can truly be their self at work
  • 9 percentage points less likely to feel fairly rewarded financially

See the rest of the results.

More stories from us


Social media has become a safe space for Ghana’s queer community. But a proposed anti-LGBTQ+ bill could make it a crime to identify as queer or as an ally. What will happen to Twitter and Google employees in Ghana if the bill passes?

Marc Benioff is one of the most outspoken tech CEOs there is, especially on social issues. Now a group of his workers want to know if that means he’ll stop letting the NRA use Salesforce products.

Name-based microaggressions at work are real. Slack is trying to foster more inclusion in the virtual workplace by allowing you to record the pronunciation of your name and add it to your profile.

The pay gap is shrinking. At least between people who live in U.S. tech hubs like San Francisco and people who live everywhere else.

Amazon allegedly told workers that it might lower their pay if they formed a union. Amazon says the alleged claims are “without merit.”


Rightsizing, where each meeting space is outfitted for a specific purpose, is top of mind for facilities pros. Reconfiguring rooms to support new hybrid work schedules enables personalization and a safe return to the office. Understanding how employees will use spaces as they come back will be critical for success.

Learn more

Around the internet


A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

Think keystroke tracking is a good business strategy to keep your workers in line? A new survey from Morning Consult says it might make them quit.

California’s Latina population is 20%, but as of this week only 1.5% of the state’s board seats have gone to Latinas. NBC reports on other gender inequity in boardrooms (real and virtual) at tech companies. And speaking of women in tech, here are the cities with the biggest and smallest gender pay gaps.

Mobility startup SWVL is laying off 32% of its workforce. Having trouble keeping up with tech company layoffs? Bookmark our tracker.

And finally, we are tired of quoting things Elon Musk says, but according to Reuters, the billionaire told Tesla workers they had to come back to the office at least 40 hours a week, adding, "If you don't show up, we will assume you have resigned."


Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to Have a great day, see you Sunday.


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