Netflix communications chief Jonathan Friedland was let go this week after seven years at the company for “his descriptive use of the N-word on at least two occasions”, showing an “unacceptably low racial awareness and sensitivity”, according to an internal memo.
The memo, penned by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and printed in full by Hollywood Reporter’s Bryn Elise Sandberg and Lesley Goldberg, explains in detail the reasons behind Friedland’s firing.
The memo mentions Friedland used the “N-word” not once, but twice and demonstrated to employees that “he didn’t care and didn’t accept accountability”:
The first incident was several months ago in a PR meeting about sensitive words. Several people afterwards told him how inappropriate and hurtful his use of the N-word was, and Jonathan apologised to those that had been in the meeting. We hoped this was an awful anomaly never to be repeated.
Three months later he spoke to a meeting of our Black Employees @ Netflix group and did not bring it up, which was understood by many in the meeting to mean he didn’t care and didn’t accept accountability for his words.
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. The second incident confirmed a deep lack of understanding, and convinced me to let Jonathan go now.
Friedland provided a response to his firing over Twitter, stating that “leaders have to be beyond reproach” and that he “fell short of that standard”.