June 23, 2018
Netflix has fired communications boss Jonathan Friedland for reportedly “unacceptably low racial awareness and sensitivity” following separate uses of the racist “N-word” in meetings.
Friedland, who had led the subscription streaming video pioneer’s PR team since 2011, was dismissed by Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings. The latter announcing the move in an employee email – first disclosed by The Hollywood Reporter.
“Jonathan contributed greatly in many areas, but his descriptive use of the N-word on at least two occasions at work showed unacceptably low racial awareness and sensitivity and is not in line with our values as a company,” Hastings wrote.
Friedland’s first use of the derogatory word occurred ironically in a PR meeting about insensitive words. Hastings, in the email, said Friedland apologized after the first occasion.
“We hoped this was an awful anomaly never to be repeated,” Hastings wrote.
Friedland allegedly used the racist term again speaking to two black human resources employees. The second use, which Hastings said he only learned about this week, occurred just days after the first offense.
Hastings attributed his lack of action following Friedland’s first offense to “my privilege” and attempt to “intellectualize or otherwise minimize race issues like this.”
The CEO went on to explain that for “non-black people” use of the “N-word” is unacceptable.
“There is not a way to neutralize the emotion and history behind the word in any context,” wrote Hastings.
Although criticized by some for its lack of black senior executives, Netflix has long sought diversity in its programming. The service recently ordered a third season of “Dear White People,” which deals with racism.
Netflix, which saw its stock top a record $400 per share this week, this year named former Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice to its board of directors.
It also inked original production deals with former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.