Rayy Babalola, the founder of the Agile Squad, a project management and consulting firm in Kent, England, was captivated by the responses on LinkedIn but says that it’s not so easy for everyone to drop the labels and forget the struggle and perseverance required to find professional success.

Ms. Babalola, 30, believes that to call herself a Black woman business founder conveys that she has overcome the dual obstacles of sexism and racism. And she feels a responsibility to signal to other Black women that they too can have a path to business ownership.

“Being a Black woman has affected how I have been treated, and that has pushed me to become a founder,” she said. “And you can’t be selfish,” she said. “Just because you found a way doesn’t mean that it’s OK, now you can be silent.”

She thinks identifiers like “female founder” and “Black-owned business” are still important. “Until those terms stop rattling minds,” she said, they need to be used to remind the world that they remain something of a novelty and in the minority.

Nikki Thompson, of Overland Park, Kan., said she never shares her opinion on social media but when she came across Ms. Sumner’s post, she couldn’t stop herself. “Labeling perpetuates the differences we should be seeking to resolve,” she wrote.

As a registered nurse, Ms. Thompson’s responsibilities include continuing education training and paperwork for patients, and many forms ask about race, gender, generational demographics, religion and ethnicity. She understands that data collection is essential when it pertains to diagnosis and treatment of illness. But she questions the value of that data collection in the many other facets of daily life. (Ms. Thompson was happy to answer the question of her age — she will turn 41 next week — but noted that labeling people’s age is part of the problem.)

“What if we drop the labels, maybe the biases would subside,” she said. “This is a daily thing in my career, and I think a lot about words and bias and unconscious bias and how we might decrease it.” (She also said that the pendulum can swing both ways: She has heard relatives say of her male peers, “I had a male nurse and he was very good.”)

Surprised by the reaction to her post, Ms. Sumner acknowledged that many of her experiences are influenced by being a white woman, “with all the privilege that entails,” she said. “But how do I see myself? How do I identify? As a founder, and as someone who starts discussions.”

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Sam’s Club C.E.O. on the Company’s High Sales and Low Wages

But one of the benefits I got in being on the finance side was a really thorough understanding of the profit and loss and balance sheet and how that all hangs together. It enabled me to take strategy and pull it apart and say: “Well, what are the objectives? And what are the prices we’ve put in place to be able to achieve those objectives?”

What were the biggest changes you made in stores and in warehouses as a result of the pandemic?

There was a lot of tactical decisions we had to make very early on: metering people into the club, the request for associates to wear masks, health screening every day, plexiglass that we had to put in appropriate places, decals on the floor. There was just such an exhaustive list.

We also wanted to give members confidence that they could trust our standards. Like, “Let’s make sure that in the first 10 feet of walking into Sam’s Club, they see us wiping down a cart.” We’re spraying them outside, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the member knows that they’ve been sprayed down. So let’s make sure that we also wipe them down so that the member knows they can have confidence.

How are you dealing with the issue of masks at a moment when states are lifting restrictions?

When a member turns up at the club, we will ask them to wear one. We will have one there to offer to them. If somebody is adamant that they don’t want to wear one, then we will continue to offer it to them.

What we’ve been trying to do is protect the safety of our associates and make sure that we’re not putting them into a conflict point. We’ve tried to make sure that we de-escalate and contain issues rather than have them escalate. I would say a majority of members comply. Most of them, if you ask them once or twice, will put a mask on.

How have people’s shopping habits changed over the past year?

We have seen periods that we called “carbs and calories,” where people would just buy up pizza, ice cream, potato chips. It was almost like they were looking for indulgence in food that they couldn’t get through experiences outside of the home. We’ve certainly seen a resurgence in people nesting and home improvement, yard improvement, outdoor entertaining. People are like, “How do I make my home my castle?”

Help me understand why it’s hard for a company like Walmart to get to the point where it’s supporting a minimum wage of $15 an hour.

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Detroit Museum Tries to Change After Review Cites a Culture of Fear

The Detroit Institute of Arts is taking steps to improve its workplace culture following a critical review by outside investigators who said they had fielded employee complaints of retaliation by the director whose autocratic leadership style, they said, had fostered an environment that led a disproportionate number of women on staff to leave.

The findings of the review by the law firm Crowell and Moring, which was hired by the museum, were presented to members of its board in November but were not made public.

The investigators, from the Washington, D.C., office of the law firm, also said that current and former staff members they had spoken to complained that the director, Salvador Salort-Pons, demonstrated a “lack of facility with race-related issues,” according to an audio recording of the board meeting at which the investigators presented their findings.

The museum said Monday that it had taken a number of steps in response to the findings, including establishing a new board position to be a liaison between staff members and the board of directors. It has also set up a confidential hotline for reporting discrimination, retaliation or other workplace issues.

Whistleblower Aid, a nonprofit law firm in Washington that represents some museum staff members, and was reviewed by The New York Times.

infusion of nearly a billion dollars from foundations, private donors and the State of Michigan. The investigators said employees they spoke to said they respected his efforts in this regard.

He has retained the support of the board, and last year the institute persuaded three surrounding counties to agree to continue a property tax surcharge that helps support the museum.

But morale was so low in 2017 that nearly half of museum staff said in a survey that they did not believe the institute provided a work culture where they could thrive, citing disrespect and a sense that their opinions were ignored. The review by Crowell and Moring found those problems had not been addressed in a meaningful way.

Last year, just as issues of culture and diversity roiled museums across the country, current and former employees came forward publicly with complaints, particularly about the institute’s treatment of its Black employees.

In September, the institute hired a Chicago-based diversity and inclusion consultancy. The consultancy, Kaleidoscope, has carried out a survey of employees and is organizing staff focus groups on issues such as equity and diversity. “The Board is fully committed to addressing these concerns and shared that commitment with our staff in December,” Christine Kloostra, a spokeswoman, said of the review’s findings. “At all levels of our organization, we’re working hard together to make the D.I.A. a better place for all of our team members.”

Reviewing employment data, the investigators found that a greater number of women in managerial and professional positions than men had left the museum in recent years. In 2018, for example, it found that 27 percent of women employed by the museum in managerial and professional positions had departed that year, compared to 2 percent of men. In some cases, Ellen Moran Dwyer, one of the investigating lawyers told the board, women said they had left even though they had no other job “because they were unhappy with the environment.”

Whistleblower Aid said the outside review’s findings showed there is a need for more substantial change to address serious problems their own clients brought forward several months ago.

“It’s got to the point where people are so desperate for accountability and change that they are taking this kind of step” to leak the recording of the board meeting, said John N. Tye, the founder and chief executive of Whistleblower Aid.

Some staff said they would wait to see whether the steps the institute is taking would make a difference in addressing the challenges.

“There is a glimmer of hope that something is being done,” said Margaret Thomas, house manager of the Detroit Film Theater, which is part of the institute. “This whole situation should not be swept under the rug.”

She added, “I want to believe that something is going to be done about this.”

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Why Bringing Humor to Work has Serious Benefits

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Humor: Serious Business,” which shows aspiring executives and entrepreneurs how to leverage laughter for better relationships and business results. They’ve also distilled their findings into a new book, “Humor, Seriously: Why Humor Is A Secret Weapon in Business and Life.”

But can people really be taught to be funny at work? Should people be taught to be funny at work?

If you explain a joke, its force disperses. The whole point of “The Office,” after all, is that it’s agony to work with a self-appointed comedian. And the framing of humor as a tool of self-advancement is somewhat unsettling, evoking the image of a sociopath calmly studying the human psyche’s soft spots to exploit them for professional gain.

Humor at work is much less about wisecracks than about levity: the shared moments of lightness that propel relationships forward and balance the seriousness of labor.

more motivating and admired. Their employees are more engaged. Their teams are more likely to solve a creativity challenge. There’s all this evidence around the R.O.I. of humor.

And then the failure myth: People think that failing at humor is going to have these huge repercussions. We teach our students that it’s so much less about telling jokes. It’s about cultivating joy.

rule of three” or contrast or exaggeration to get the outcome they want — which is, in this case, laughs. It’s just like how athletes know the exact form that they should use.

That’s a good analogy. You can have a healthy, happy life as someone who exercises regularly but never crosses over into athletic competition. It sounds like it’s also fine to be a person who appreciates humor but prefers not to be the one cracking jokes.

has said: “The easiest way to be funny is not to try — instead, just look for moments to laugh.” This isn’t about being funny. This is about being generous with laughter. You’re empowering others to use it, and showing up much more as a human — not a clown.

How can leaders ensure the humor they’re encouraging is appropriate?

Aaker: Many people who have used humor to good effect in the past often equate humor with their style of humor. Like, “I just threw out a joke, it didn’t land, I think it would have two years ago, therefore the world is not funny anymore.” The calculation is not that the world is humorless, per se. It’s that we need to better understand the diversity of humor styles that other people have, and better understand — through empathy more than anything else — how to better read a room and understand the dynamics of status.

What’s interesting is that while trust in leadership is plunging — which is a problem for leaders who have used the same old jokes for a while — those organizations that somehow manage to maintain a high-trust environment are thriving.

We know that when employees rate what characteristics inspire trust, their answers are things like, “My boss speaks like a regular person.” We’re living in a time when empathy, inclusivity and authenticity are important for all leaders. Humor is actually a secret weapon that can serve them well.

So how do we keep levity alive on remote teams, when you don’t have the in-person benefits of facial expression and tone — or feel like you have much to laugh about?

Bagdonas: This was such a pressing need that at the beginning of the pandemic that we created a course called “Remotely Humorous,” which is all about having humor in remote teams.

Part of this is creating space for it. We need to have a norm that at the beginning of every call, we just talk like humans rather than jump right into the agenda. We talk about what just happened with our kids, or whose dog is running around in the background or what genuine mishap has happened in people’s lives due to this pandemic.

meetings, email and other workplace absurdities. “Never look for what’s funny,” Ms. Cooper told Stanford students in a guest lecture. “Look for what’s true, and go from there.”

Demi Adejuyigbe

The comedian and writer for shows like “The Good Place” and “The Late Late Show With James Corden” finds the funny in everything, including technology’s tendency to overcomplicate our personal and professional lives.

Amber Ruffin

The host of “The Amber Ruffin Show” has been a writer on “Late Night With Seth Meyers” since 2014. She regularly appears with co-writer Jenny Hagel in the segment “Jokes Seth Can’t Tell,” where the two women deliver punch lines that would sound wrong coming from a straight white guy’s mouth, in any setting.

What do you think? Is work better when there’s humor or should it be strictly business? Let us know: dealbook@nytimes.com.

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‘There Is a Bigger Role’: A C.E.O. Pushes Diversity

I don’t blindly accept that the pipeline is the problem. We had to think differently. We had to behave differently. So what we’ve tried to show with our transparency is the deliberate steps you can take to get better.

What have the conversations been like with white men?

When we looked at the teams inside PwC that were servicing our top clients six years ago, they were done by white men. We made the decision that we were going to change that. So we invested more in our pipeline. We did more around sponsorship. We worked with our clients. And we’ve made massive progress there. But as we did that, many of our white men were like, “I get it intellectually. But God, I’ve been working for 20 years to be that guy in that job. And I feel cheated.” I’ve had 50 steak dinners in the last four years with incredibly talented white men who say to me, “Tim, I get it. I see what we’re doing. Our clients demand it. It’s the right thing to do. I’m all in. But what about me?”

So we’ve tried to redefine success. You may not be the lead partner, but how about helping that person get the role? What would you rather be remembered for? What do you want to be inspired by? And the reason why growth is so important is that it’s not a zero-sum game. When you’re growing, you’re creating more opportunities. It becomes less about these 20 clients. Now we’ve grown, and there’s 30 clients to share the wealth.

Are there people who just feel like they got cheated? Yes, there are. And what I say to those people is, “I’m asking you to respect what we are trying to do. I’m asking you to respect our colleagues. I’m asking you to have compassion. And if you don’t agree, that’s OK. You don’t have to agree with me. But I do need you to live our values.”

How did the pandemic unfold at PwC?

Our people are all over the world in different countries. When the pandemic hit, as borders shut down, as transportation shut down, the first thing it was all about was just getting people safe, getting them home.

Then, in the later part of March, think about the equity markets. Think about the uncertainty. People were worried about their health and worried about their financial security. My leadership team, my board and I, we talked about the fact that we’re not a health-care provider. We’re not a health-care company. So we talked about economic certainty for our people, and we said we would use layoffs only as a last resort. We did that having no idea where our business was going to go.

Our business took a dip and, and we sat down every week and looked at the numbers, asking ourselves along, “Can we do this? Have we made the right decision?” And we held on. Outside of performance-based layoffs, which is a traditional part of business, we got through it.

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