Buttigieg advisers say the retreat was part of an ongoing effort to foster a progressive culture that empowered employees of color. For some of these staff members, however, the workplace itself was a problem, and working for a candidate with so little support from black and Hispanic voters had become demoralizing.

In interviews, current and former staff members of color said they believed that senior Buttigieg officials didn’t listen to their concerns and ideas about the campaign. One said there was a daily “emotional weight” on people of color who felt they were employed in order to help the campaign meet its ambitious diversity targets. Some Hispanic employees felt disrespected when managers asked them to translate text, even if they didn’t speak Spanish.

A follow-up meeting nearly two weeks after the retreat — organized by staff members — became emotional, according to two people who attended. Some employees of color spoke about feeling disrespected by white colleagues. Others said they felt stressed from having to answer questions from friends and family members about working for a candidate struggling with minority voters, the two people said.