Leaked recording of Epic exec leaves some employees doubtful of diversity efforts

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Epic, the Verona, Wis.-based EHR company, is facing backlash after a recording of a company executive appearing to say that diversity, equity and inclusion efforts should not misuse company time or resources was leaked online, The Capital Times reported Oct. 20.

Seven things to know:

  1. Epic's leadership met in summer 2020 to discuss the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion council's role in assisting Epic's employees amid Black Lives Matter protests worldwide. A minute-long recording from the meeting was posted to Reddit Oct. 18.

  2. Carl Dvorak, president of Epic, said, "I can see that sometimes there's gonna be an effort to be lobbyists or to kind of groupthink, 'Let's band together and force the company.' I don't see that as part of a role for DEI. If anything, I actually see this team's partial responsibility is to expunge that from the workplace: refocus people to go to their community efforts around those topics, those issues, but not to allow, or to encourage, or even to turn a blind eye to misuse of company time and resources."

  3. He continued, "It's OK to have passions, but not here. This isn't the platform to fight for your social cause. It's not the platform to fight for your – any cause, really, other than the cause that we come together for work. And, again, this comes from 30 years of watching what happens. There just comes a moment where you have to say 'Work is work, personal life is personal life.' You have to say no to a whole bunch of stuff that's happening … because although it's good and interesting and appropriate for your personal endeavors, it's not part of our endeavor here."

  4. Barb Hernandez, a spokesperson for Epic, told Becker's, "The discussion had to do with one of our staff being bullied because she was married to a police officer. That sort of behavior is uncommon at Epic and Carl wanted to make sure it stopped."

  5. "The audio clip reflects a small part of a larger discussion around preventing bullying and harassment at Epic, and it captures only some of Carl's point that bullying is never the right thing to do," Ms. Hernandez told Becker's. "While bullying is rare at Epic, he stressed that it wouldn't be tolerated and asked the DEI council's help to 'expunge' it if it occurred. Epic is proud of the work that the DEI council is doing, and we fully support both the progress they've made and what they hope to achieve in the future."

  6. More than a dozen current and former employees expressed their frustrations with Epic's diversity efforts, according to the report. A current employee said Mr. Dvorak's message reminded her of the U.S. military's former "don't ask, don't tell" approach to gay and lesbian service members.

  7. A different employee who participated in DEI efforts called the message "disappointing but unsurprising." The employee said the group was told not to meet during work hours; a group working to reduce racial disparities in healthcare was disbanded; and those leading team discussions on DEI issues were told not to log that time, according to the report.

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