'Inconsistent with our values' | Netflix fires three staff after 'criticising co-workers' in work chat

Netflix fires three staff after 'criticising co-workers' in work chat

The streaming giant Netflix has reportedly sacked three senior film marketing executives for ‘criticising co-workers’ in a Slack channel at work, the Daily Mail reported.

The Hollywood Reporter, who first published the story, noted that the ‘criticising’ was said to be about upper management.

Yet, a Netflix Spokesperson has disputed this.

They told HR Grapevine: “The Hollywood Reporter is wrong, as we repeatedly told them. These directors were fired because they made critical comments about their peers over several months on Slack, including during meetings when those peers were talking or presenting.

“This behaviour was entirely inconsistent with our values as a company - which state that ‘You only say things about fellow employees you say to their face’,” the Spokesperson added.

The messages

The senior members of staff haven’t been identified and what was said within these conversations hasn’t been shared publically.

However, it has been reported that a whistleblower found months’ worth of messages on an open Slack channel and reported them.

The firm’s Co-CEO said in a LinkedIn comment that “it’s worth noting that we don’t proactively monitor Slack or email”.

‘Integrity’

The organisation – which has its headquarters in California – reportedly has a transparent workplace environment, a source told The Hollywood Reporter.

This is said to be listed on the company’s website. In fact, a page on the streaming site’s job website details how staffers are expected to “only say things about fellow employees that you say to their face”. This falls under the subheading “integrity”, according to The Independent.

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The company continued to write on its page: “This attribute is one of the hardest for new people to believe — and to learn to practice.”

This is also something that a senior leader at Netflix pointed towards in a recent LinkedIn post.

‘Culture memo’

After the Hollywood Reporter’s coverage of this news was shared on LinkedIn, Ted Sarandos, Co-CEO and Chief Content Officer at Netflix took to the professional networking site to respond in a comment to the post.

He wrote: “Very early on at Netflix, Reed Hastings wrote a culture memo for the company with Patty McCord, then our head of talent. At its heart was the notion of integrity and feedback, which they described as “You only say things about fellow employees you say to their face”. 

“What happened here was unfortunately not simply venting on Slack or a single conversation. These were critical, personal comments made over several months about their peers (not their management as suggested by The Hollywood Reporter) - including during meetings when those peers were talking or presenting.

“This is entirely inconsistent with those values, which is why their manager fired them. It's also worth noting that we don't proactively monitor Slack or email. The Slack channel was open so anyone could access the conversations even though the employees concerned thought it was private. “

Netflix’s Co-CEO went on to say that “these decisions are always tough and always sad”.

He added: “But having a healthy culture requires hard decisions, which is why managers don’t shy away from them at Netflix.”

Divided opinions

The news of these reported sackings has seen many weigh in on social media about whether this was the right decision, and how ‘venting can be a good thing’.

One person took to LinkedIn writing: “If it was simple venting about a shared frustration (rather than abusive or disparaging)....would they rather have their employees flush it out on anonymous review sites like glassdoor? Why punish employees to this extent (or...at all)?

"It's a missed opportunity to take negative feedback and use it to create an open and authentic conversation about what's been bothering the employees, and how they can all move forward. It's also taking away a certain level of emotional trust and safety from all other employees to know that they could be fired for sharing their opinions/unfavorable feedback.”

On the other hand, others thanked him for sharing greater clarity. One wrote: “It’s always a balance when making decisions and leaders have to be willing to stand behind their reasons and you are - well done.”

Another wrote that “venting can be a good thing”. They continued: “If you and your co-workers all see you're complaining about the same action from your boss, that can lead to someone finally addressing it, and change being made.”



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