Netflix parted ways with its chief communications officer Friday over “insensitive” comments he made in a staff meeting.
Jonathan Friedland, the streaming giant’s top public relations executive, used the N-word while speaking to staffers, according to published reports. His comment sparked outrage, prompting some employees to complain to management.
Friedland took to Twitter Friday to confirm he was departing Netflix.
“I’m leaving Netflix after seven years. Leaders have to be beyond reproach in the example we set and unfortunately I fell short of that standard when I was insensitive in speaking to my team about words that offend in comedy,” he tweeted.
“I feel awful about the distress this lapse caused to people at a company I love and where I want everyone to feel included and appreciated. I feel honored to have built a brilliant and diverse global team and to have been part of our collective adventure,” he continued.
I feel awful about the distress this lapse caused to people at a company I love and where I want everyone to feel included and appreciated. I feel honored to have built a brilliant and diverse global team and to have been part of our collective adventure.
— jonathan friedland (@jsf33) June 22, 2018
Shortly after he posted his statement on social media, The Hollywood Reporter obtained a copy of a staff memo from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, saying Friedland had been fired.
“I’ve made a decision to let go of Jonathan Friedland. 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,” the memo said.
Hastings went on to say the first incident happened several months ago in a PR meeting. After being told his comments were “inappropriate and hurtful,” Friedland apologized to the people who were in the meeting. He used the N-word again, this time in front of human resources employees.
“The second incident, which I only heard about this week, was a few days after the first incident; this time Jonathan said the N-word again to two of our Black employees in HR who were trying to help him deal with the original offense,” Hastings’ memo said. “The second incident confirmed a deep lack of understanding, and convinced me to let Jonathan go now.”
Before joining Netflix, Friedland served as a public relations executive at Disney.
A former journalist, he previously worked as the Los Angeles bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal.