Tech CEO sparks backlash after quoting civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in an email announcing she was cutting 7% of her workforce.
PagerDuty CEO Jennifer Tejada wrote in a 1,700-word email that the digital operations management company made a few other changes, including promoting some executives and cutting expenses. Tejada’s email was also posted on the company’s website.
Towards the end of the announcement, she said the moment reminded her of Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote that “the ultimate goal of a [leader] is not where [they] stand in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where [they] stand in times of challenge and controversy.”
The broadcast sparked a backlash on social media, with observers calling the email “tone-deaf” and “disgusting”. Tejada’s communication, which alternates between somber company-speak such as calling the layoffs “improvement” and upbeat comments about the “deeply talented individuals who #BringThemselves” at work, comes after a series of tech layoffs that have been criticized for lacking compassion and humanity.
“All time classic bad layoff announcement: CEO of PagerDuty opens with ‘Hi Dutonians’, takes 370 words to get to the layoff bit, goes on another *1250 words*, and ends with ‘I’m reminded at moments like this, of something Martin Luther King said…” noted Tom Gara, a technology communications manager at Meta, in a tweet.
Others said the email felt like it was written by ChatGPT, and one critic described it as “hidden[ing] the human strain behind a smokescreen of jargon and passive voice.”
PagerDuty did not immediately return a request for comment.
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