Tech CEO who quoted Martin Luther King Jr. to announce layoffs apologizes

Francis Akhalbey February 02, 2023
PagerDuty CEO Jennifer Tejada reportedly quoted MLK in a layoffs announcement -- Left Photo Credit: Eóin Noonan/Web Summit via Sportsfile | Right Photo Credit: Nobel Foundation

Jennifer Tejada, the CEO of tech company PagerDuty, rendered an apology on Friday after she received backlash for quoting Martin Luther King Jr. in a layoffs announcement. According to CNN, Tejada sent an email to employees on January 24 to announce the digital operations management company was going to lay off 7% of its employees.

But Tejada cited a leadership quote from the iconic civil rights leader in the letter. “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. “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.”

The tech CEO quoting MLK, however, did not go down well with people on social media as they said she used it out of context, The Washington Post reported. An individual in the technology industry tweeted that the letter was the “most tone-deaf layoff email I read.”

In the wake of the backlash, Tejada sent a memo apologizing for using the quote. “The quote I included from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was inappropriate and insensitive,” she wrote in the Friday memo. “I should have been more upfront about the layoffs in the email, more thoughtful about my tone, and more concise. I am sorry.”

Over the last few weeks, tech companies have gone on a layoff spree that has seen tens of thousands of people affected, CNN reported. In January, Amazon announced it was going to lay off over 18,000 workers. Cloud-based software company Salesforce also announced its intention to cut its workforce by 10%. Microsoft, on the other hand, reportedly laid off about 10,000 workers. 

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 2, 2023


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