Tech company CEO apologises for ‘insensitive’ use of Martin Luther King Jr quote in layoffs email

One user called the email an ‘all time classic bad layoff announcement’, while another referred to the announcement as ‘the most tone-deaf layoff email’. — Coffee work photo created by Racool_studio -

A California technology company’s CEO apologised after including a quote from a Martin Luther King Jr sermon in an email to employees announcing layoffs, calling it “inappropriate and insensitive”.

Toward the end of her 1,700-word email to employees on Jan 24, which is posted on the company’s website, PagerDuty’s Jennifer Tejada quotes from Martin Luther King Jr’s “The Measure of a Man” shortly after announcing company promotions.

ALSO READ: US boss apologises after laying off 900 employees over Zoom

“I am reminded in moments like this, of something Martin Luther King said, that ‘the ultimate measure 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 email reads.

PagerDuty did not immediately return McClatchy News’ request for comment on Jan 31.

In the email announcing layoffs, which does not include the word “layoffs”, Tejada first talks about the economy while interweaving the company’s successes.

About seven paragraphs into the email, Tejada mentions four “refinements” for the company’s operating model, which includes “eliminating roughly 7% of roles globally.”

The San Francisco-based cloud-computing company is estimated to have 950 full-time employees, according to Yahoo Finance.

ALSO READ: The ‘crying CEO’ says he loves his employees – even those he laid off

Four paragraphs later, Tejada notes that those affected by the layoffs will receive severance with an average of 11 weeks of pay, health-care coverage for at least three months and “career transition support”.

Some on social media were quick to criticise Tejada’s approach.

“Did PagerDuty seriously decide it was a good idea to quote MLK in a press release where they are laying off 7% of their workforce?” one Twitter user wrote.

One user called the email an “all time classic bad layoff announcement”, while another referred to the announcement as “the most tone-deaf layoff email”.

“The email is very long, and feels like it was written by an AI that took all the phrases that people usually say, and put it into one long email,” one user wrote.

Similarly, another user suggested that the announcement looked as if it was written by ChatGPT.

ALSO READ: US tech workers react to layoff axes with shock, and ‘more pain’ is coming

Some, however, stood behind Tejada.

“I have no perspective on any of PagerDuty HR actions or corporate communications,” one user wrote. “But I know Jennifer Tejada to be deeply authentic with unimpeachable integrity. She will handle the criticism and fight on to do what’s right.”

Another called Tejada a “tremendous human and deeply thoughtful and caring leader”.

In her apology email sent on Jan 27, Tejada says she “should have been more upfront about the layoffs in the email, more thoughtful about my tone, and more concise”.

“The way I communicated layoffs distracted from our number one priority: showing care for the employees we laid off, and demonstrating the grace, respect, and appreciation they and all of you deserve,” Tejada wrote. – The Charlotte Observer/Tribune News Service

Article type: free
User access status:
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!

Next In Tech News

ChatGPT chats are not confidential, so don't tell it your secrets
Amazon connecting up devices in US homes into one giant wi-fi network
Elon Musk seeks to end $258 billion Dogecoin lawsuit
Rage-tweeting: When angry consumers seek 'revenge' for bad service
Apple VR headset coming? WWDC developer conference set for June 5
Apple wins reversal of $502 million VirnetX patent infringement verdict
E3 cancels 2023 event, leaving Los Angeles without a major gaming convention
U.S. lawmakers introduce bipartisan bill to help news media negotiate with Big Tech
Activision threatened, spied on workers amid union drive, U.S. agency says
Twitter makes some of its source code public

Others Also Read