The head of a San Francisco-based cloud computing company was widely mocked on social media when she sent an email to employees announcing layoffs while quoting the late Martin Luther King Jr.
Jennifer Tejada, the CEO of PagerDuty, was blasted for being “tone-deaf” after she sent a lengthy, 1,669-word email to her employees announcing that the company would be “refining” its business structure by slashing 7% of its global workforce.
Tejada ended the memo with a quote from a sermon delivered by King, which was later included in the 1959 book “The Measure of a Man.”
“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,’” Tejada wrote.
The cold-hearted executive was immediately scorched on social media
One Twitter user commented that it was “the most tone-deaf layoff email I read so far,” adding that it “feels like it was written by an AI that took all the phrases that people usually say, and put it in one long email.”
One Twitter user offered some advice to PagerDuty, writing: “Maybe don’t quote MLK when firing 7% of your workforce?”
Another Twitter user posted a screenshot of a Google search which showed that Tejada’s annual salary was $13.2 million.
“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?” another Twitter user wondered.
The 7% “refinement” meant the company fired 66 people out of the 950 it employed a year ago.
Tejada was also criticized for using the occasion to celebrate employee promotions and tout the firm’s positive financial results for the fourth quarter of last year.
Last month, PagerDuty reported that it generated revenue of $94.2 million for the most recent quarter — a year-over-year increase of 31.3%. The company also said that its net loss for the same quarter amounted to $32.8 million — which was higher than the year before.
“We expect to finish the year strong — in fact, we have reaffirmed our guidance for FY23 today — and those results, combined with the refinements outlined above, put PagerDuty in a position of strength to successfully execute on our platform strategy regardless of what the market and the macroenvironment bring,” Tejada wrote in the email earlier this week.
The Post has sought comment from PagerDuty.
Tejada did appear to try and show sensitivity to those who were let go, writing: “I regard Dutonians as more than employees; they are accomplished, deeply talented individuals who #BringThemselves and drive the innovation and culture behind our products and services to deliver experiences that delight our customers.”
“I appreciate each and every Dutonian’s contribution to PagerDuty,” the CEO wrote.
“It is my expectation that we show all of our colleagues the grace, respect, and dignity they have earned.”
Tejada wrote that “as someone who has worked in this industry for decades, I have experienced this before and it is never easy, and I also know from experience that while we may not work together in the short term, our relationships and this community live beyond our tenure at PagerDuty.”
Those who were canned will be given a severance with an average of 11 weeks pay as well as extended healthcare coverage for themselves and their dependents “for a minimum of three to four months.”
Fired employees were also promised assistance with future job placement.
The tech industry has been hit hard by the economic downturn — forcing companies to lay off tens of thousands.
A former Google employee posted a TikTok video this week which showed the moment she learned she was one of 12,000 employees being let go by the tech behemoth.
Other tech giants like Amazon, Microsoft, Twitter, Meta, and Snap have also laid off large numbers of employees in recent months.