The CEO of PagerDuty, Jennifer Tejada, apologized this past week after coming under fire over a layoff email she sent out to employees last Thursday. The letter contained news that the digital operations management company would be letting go 7% of its employees.
Already distressed by the layoffs, some recipients of the letter were outraged by a Martin Luther King Jr. quote Tejada used to conclude the email.
“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,’” she wrote. “PagerDuty is a leader that stands behind its customers, its values, and our vision — for an equitable world where we transform critical work so all teams can delight their customers and build trust.”
Many viewed the layoff announcement to be “tone-deaf” and “disgusting,” CBS News reported.
Beginning with “Hi Dutonions,” Tejada proceeds to go on for 370 words before getting to the layoff announcement, and then concluded with the King quote another 1,250 words later.
The following day, Tejada apologized for the tone of the email. “There are a number of things I would do differently if I could,” Tejada wrote. “The quote I included from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was inappropriate and insensitive. I should have been more upfront about the layoffs in the email, more thoughtful about my tone, and more concise. I am sorry.”
Some viewers believed the letter sounded as if an AI had written the email due to the lack of sensitivity. Author Gergerly Orosz tweeted, “The most tone-deaf layoff email I read so far was written yesterday, and it comes from PagerDuty CEO Jennifer Tejada. The email is vey long, and feels like it was written by an AI that took all the phrases that people usually say, and put it one long email.”
The most tone-deaf layoff email I read so far was written yesterday, and it comes from PagerDuty CEO Jennifer Tejada.— Gergely Orosz (@GergelyOrosz) January 25, 2023
The email is vey long, and feels like it was written by an AI that took all the phrases that people usually say, and put it one long email.
See for yourself: pic.twitter.com/TX6ntwObjE
CNN reported, “The tech industry has seen a spate of layoffs in recent weeks. Amazon announced in early January that it would lay off more than 18,000 workers. And Salesforce said it plans to cut about 10% of its staff. Microsoft, meanwhile, is laying off 10,000.”
When pressed for more information, a PagerDuty representative referred to a blog post with Tejada’s full apology that is no longer available online.