5 Steps Responsible People Take if They're Called Out for Being Problematic at Work

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May 22, 2024 at 2:56AM UTC
So... you did something problematic and you were called out for it. Whether you did something offensive in an everyday scenario or while doing your best to fight for justice, congratulations! You've got a special opportunity. Being corrected is an important part of bettering ourselves and creating a more equitable world, not a curse or inconvenience. Whoever called you out thinks you can do better and be better. And they know marginalized people deserve that from you. 
How can you use this opportunity to grow and rectify the situation properly? Student activist Brianna Chandler posted a great guide to holding yourself accountable after you mess up. Because messing up is inevitable — and the fear of saying something wrong is no excuse for being silent. 
We broke Chandler's guide into five easy steps to take yourself through when you're being asked to hold yourself accountable. You can click any of the screenshots below to access Chandler's entire post. 

1. Remember that moving past something requires reflection.

You have to grow in order to make a mistake into a lesson. 

2. Decenter yourself.

Holding yourself accountable means setting your ego aside, doing real internal work and not asking the other person to absolve you of your mistake. 

3. Then, take action.

Holding yourself accountable also requires taking steps to fix the damage you've done. Educate yourself or make things right by assisting the marginalized group in some way — don't just acknowledge what you did was wrong and move on. 

4. Remember forgiveness isn't the end goal. 

You should be doing the work to better yourself, not to be seeking out a "thank you" from marginalized people. 

5. If you see others engaging in harmful behavior, hold them accountable.

You haven't truly done the work of correcting an oppressive behavior until you go beyond yourself and stop others from engaging in it, too. Put what you learned to good work. 

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