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PagerDuty’s CEO apologizes after quoting Martin Luther King Jr. in the layoff announcement

Google has cut 12,000 jobs, with layoffs continuing in the technology sector

02:49

The CEO of a technology company has apologized for quoting civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in an email announcing it would cut 7% of its workforce. Her email sparked a backlash from critics, with one expert called “New Low Bar for Layoff Announcement”.

PagerDuty CEO Jennifer Tejada wrote in a 1,700-word email that the digital operations management company was making some other changes, including promoting some executives and cutting spending. Tejada’s email was too Spread on the company’s website.

At the end of the ad, Tejada said the moment reminded her of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s quote that “the ultimate measure [leader] not in it [they] Standing in moments of rest and comfort, but where [they] Standing up in times of challenge and controversy.”

The letter drew heavy criticism on social media, with observers calling the email “tone deaf” and “disgusting”. Tejada’s outreach, which vacillates between somber corporate rhetoric like calling the layoffs “improvements,” and optimistic comments about “extremely talented individuals who #bring themselves” to work, comes after a series of tech layoffs that have been criticized as You lack compassion and humanity.

“The all-time classic bad layoff announcement: The PagerDuty CEO starts with ‘Hi Dutonians,’ takes 370 words to get to the layoff part, goes on *another 1,250 words* and ends with ‘I am reminded in moments like this,’ of something Martin Luther King said. Tom Jara, Meta’s director of technology communications, noted in a tweet.

On Friday, Tejada amended the email by posting a short post on her company’s website, saying the use of King’s quote was “inappropriate and insensitive.”

“There are a number of things I would have done 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 forthright about the layoffs in the email, more thoughtful in my tone and more concise. I’m sorry.”

Others said the original message felt like it was written by ChatGPT, and one critic called it “hidden[ing] Human losses behind a smokescreen of jargon and passive voice”.

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