PagerDuty CEO Apologizes For Quoting MLK In Layoff Announcement

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Frances Floresca Contributor
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The CEO of a San Francisco tech company apologized Jan. 27  for quoting Martin Luther King Jr. in layoff announcement.

PagerDuty CEO Jennifer Tejada wrote an email Jan. 24 announcing the layoffs and changes to the company, “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 received backlash from social media and in opinion pieces. Journalist Elizabeth Spiers called the email a “new low bar for a layoff announcement” in a New York Times opinion piece. Others on social media called it “tone deaf” and “disgusting,” according to CBS News.

On Jan. 27, Tejada wrote a response to her original email addressing the backlash. “There are a number of things I would do differently if I could. 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,” she wrote. (RELATED: Google’s Parent Company Just Cut Over 10,000 Jobs)

According to her email, she eliminated 7% of roles at PagerDuty, primarily in the company’s go-to-market and general and administrative organizations. She also plans to reduce discretionary spending, negotiate more favorable commercial agreements with the company’s key vendors and “rationalize our real estate footprint to reflect the realities of the company’s distributed-by-design hybrid work model.”