After dismissing employee who used the ‘N’ word, Netflix will start educating staff

After dismissing their Head of Communications for using the ‘N’ word twice during a meeting, Netflix has stated that they will begin a programme to educate their staff about how nationality, gender, and race affect the company.

Jonathon Friedland was dismissed from the company after he used the ‘N’ word in a descriptive method in at least two occasions. The fact that he was in charge of corporate communication meant that there was really no choice but to fire him. An employee is a lesser public facing position may have just been disciplined, but Friedland was in a position where everything he said would be heard by the public.

Netflix founder Reed Hastings sent an internal memo to all employees stating that the use of the word had showed low racial awareness and a lack of sensitivity. This was not in line with the company policy and their values.

Friedland had first used the word in a PR meeting which was about sensitive words. Friedland apologised for using the word afterwards, when other staff members had raised concerns about him using it. Some days later he used the word again. This time it was during a meeting where there were two black employees present. They were in fact speaking to him about his inappropriate use of the word during the previous meeting.

Reed Hastings afterwards stated that Netflix should have taken more action at the time and could have used it as a learning example about offensive language. The memo went on to say that Netflix intended to find ways to educate employees and help them understand the different ways that gender identity, race, nationality, and privilege play a vital part in both the company and society.

Netflix stated that the company seeks to be ‘great at inclusion across many dimensions’. It is situation like this that show how uneven the company is. They feel that they should have employed outside experts to help with this mush earlier.

Friedland commented in a tweet that he felt that leaders needed to be above reproach in the examples they set for employees. Unfortunately, he had fallen short of that mark when he was speaking to his team about words that offended. Friedland had been with Netflix for seven years and before that he had been employed as an executive with Disney.

The memo which Hastings sent after Friedland was dismissed stated that while may employees had worked closely with him, there were now mixed emotions on his dismissal. Unfortunately, Friedland’s lack of judgement in this area was too great to allow him to remain in the company.

Hastings concluded by saying that if black people or black artists want to use the ‘n’ word then that is their prerogative, but this word should never come out of the mouths of white people,

Netflix continues to strive to make sure all staff feel safe and supported while working there.


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