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Netflix chief communications officer fired after using racist language

Wil Crisp
Netflix is based in Los Gatos, California - REUTERS

Netflix has fired its chief communications officer, Jonathan Friedland, for repeatedly using racist language when talking to colleagues.

The company’s chief executive, Reed Hastings, explained his reasoning for taking action against Mr Friedland on Friday, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which obtained a copy of an internal memo.

In the memo Mr Hastings said: “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.”

In a statement posted on Twitter, Mr Friedland said: “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."

In another tweet, which has now been deleted, he said: “Thanks. Rise high, fall fast. All on a couple of words....”

Mr Friedland has become the latest in a series of employees to leave tech companies after being accused of inappropriate behaviour.

Earlier this week chipmaker Intel removed its chief executive, Brian Krzanich, after it was revealed that he had been in a consensual relationship with an employee.

Jonathan Bush, the chief executive of Athenahealth, a health-technology company, stepped down earlier this month after a series of allegations about misconduct involving women.

In numbers | Netflix

His exit came after reports that he had faced complaints of inappropriate behaviour with female employees and made comments at a 2017 industry event saying he wanted to “jump down on” a woman “and do inappropriate things".

Last year James Damore, an engineer at Google, was fired after circulating a memo arguing that biological differences between men and women help to explain why fewer women work in software engineering.

Netflix, based in Los Gatos, California, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the departure of Mr Friedland, who spent more than seven years at the company.

He was made head of communications in 2012.