SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The CEO of a San Francisco-based tech company has apologized after she quoted Martin Luther King Jr. in a layoff letter sent to employees last week.
PagerDuty CEO Jennifer Tejada sent the letter to employees, also posted on the company’s website, announcing layoffs affecting roughly 7% of employees on Thursday. A cloud computing company with locations in San Francisco, Atlanta, Toronto, Australia and the United Kingdom, PagerDuty employed roughly 950 people as of January 2022.
In the letter, Tejada begins by listing out economic conditions which have led to the layoffs, before moving on to discuss the company’s successes.
She goes on to describe how PagerDuty’s business model is still strong despite the economic conditions: “While demand for our products and services remains stable and our strategy to help our customers transform their operations remains relevant and intact, it is taking longer to convert than prior years.”
The announcement of the layoffs does not begin until the seventh paragraph, where Tejada lists the elimination of roles, “the vast majority of which are in North America,” as “refinements” that aim to strengthen PagerDuty moving forward. The letter goes on to discuss upcoming top-level position changes and severance plans for those impacted by layoffs.
Tejada closed with the words of Martin Luther King Jr:
None of this would be possible without you, our leadership, and our board — thank you for your grit and resilience, your commitment to our customers and your support of our values and people. 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.” 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.Jennifer Tejada, CEO of PagerDuty
Users on Twitter were quick to call Tejada’s statement “disgusting,” “callous,” and “tone-deaf.”
Friday night, Tejada posted an apology to the company’s website. She noted that the way she wrote the letter distracted from the struggle of the employees being laid off.
“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,” Tejada wrote.