CEO quotes Martin Luther King Jr. in email announcing mass layoffs
Remember this inspirational quote while looking for a new jobBy Rob Thubron 30 comments
WTF?! Anyone who's been laid off from a job will know what an awful experience it is. Something that can make it even worse, however, is the CEO sending out a 1,500-word email informing staff of the layoffs, referred to as "refinements" in the message, and including a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.
PagerDuty, a cloud computing company specializing in a SaaS incident response platform for IT departments, is joining the depressingly long list of tech firms laying off staff in these times of economic turmoil. Around 7% of its global workforce are losing their jobs, most of them based in the US.
There's no easy way to inform staff that they no longer have a job, but the layoff announcement email from PagerDuty CEO Jennifer Tejada is generating a lot of heat for its tone—and other elements.
The email begins with the upbeat and quirky "Hi, Dutonians," which is probably not the best way to start telling someone they'll soon be unemployed. Other points unlikely to make the blow of losing a job more bearable include the layoffs (or "refinements") not being addressed until around a quarter of the way into the message, boasts about the company's achievements, reminding employees how important they are (or were), and talking about how exciting it is that the firm has a new SVP of field operations.
But the icing on this cake is using a Martin Luther King Jr. quote at the end, which Tejada edited with brackets. "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 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
It's unlikely that King would have expected his quote from a pair of 1958 sermons on racial and economic equity would one day be used in a letter announcing layoffs, yet here we are.
Tejada expanded on the quote with, "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." Teams that haven't been laid off, presumably.
Writer Gergely Orosz tweeted that the announcement looks like it was created by a generative AI in the style of other layoff announcement letters.
As bad as the email is, it's still better than the method used by Vishal Garg, CEO of mortgage firm Better.com, who fired 300 employees during a three-minute Zoom call—and just before the holidays, too.