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  • Writer's pictureKarla Trippe

Failing Upward

Updated: Jul 18, 2020

Today Kirstjen Nielsen is searching for a new job. She was asked to resign as the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last week because she wasn’t “tough enough” on immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S. I find it difficult to understand how a woman who put children in cages and separated them from their parents while failing to put any tracking in place so these families could be reunited wasn’t tough enough. How is someone capable of causing long-term trauma in children not tough enough? Does Nielsen or Trump not understand that together they successfully abused thousands of children. Doesn’t this place the U.S. among other countries like North Korea as violators of human rights?

The secretary of DHS is responsible for protecting the United States against a wide-range of threats including aviation security, border control, emergency response and cybersecurity.

When I was still running my marketing & communications agency, I worked closely with DHS on cybersecurity during the Obama administration. My work allowed me to see some of the most advanced security technology and work with DHS on security policy. Thus, I was aware of how vulnerable we were to cyber terrorism long before the attacks by Russia during the 2016 election. However, rather than focusing on this critical, underfunded problem, DHS has focused on the lesser, low-threat issue of keeping non-white immigrants willing to fill poverty-level jobs for their own safety out of the country.

So, my question to you is this. Would you hire Kirstjen Nielsen? What jobs want applicants who are unable to perform all required responsibilities? Does the job require the ability to abuse children, immigrants or people of color?

Based on my experience working in the Silicon Valley, Nielsen will probably land on her feet with a job that pays more and has fewer responsibilities. She may even get a cushy board position. We call this failing upward and I’ve seen it plenty of times with men and women. I expect that by doing Trump’s bidding rather than taking the moral high ground, Nielsen will fall upwards for the rest of her career, particularly if she focuses on working for companies run by white Republican males.

By the way, April is National Child Abuse Awareness month. Ironic isn’t it?


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