Netflix’s head of communications sacked over ‘N-word’

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Netflix has sacked its head of communications over his use of the “N-word” during conversations with colleagues.

Jonathan Friedland is said to have first used the slur in a descriptive sense during a discussion about the use of offensive terms in comedy.

Head of the streaming giant, Reed Hastings, said he had “let go” of the chief communications officer after learning he allegedly used the “painful and ugly” term again while discussing the initial incident with human resources.

Mr Friedland, a former journalist who had worked at Netflix for seven years, said he felt “awful about the distress this lapse caused”.

In a lengthy internal memo to staff reported by Variety, Mr Hastings said Mr Friedland had “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 chief executive said.

The initial incident is said to have taken place “several months ago” in a public relations meeting about sensitive words.

A few days later, in discussion with HR about the incident, he used the term again in front of two black employees, Mr Hastings said.

During a later meeting with the Black Employees @ Netflix group, Mr Friedland failed to mention the episode, which was perceived as a failure to care or accept accountability for his words, the memo said.

Mr Hastings said he only learned of Mr Friedland’s alleged use of the term on a second occasion in recent weeks, which prompted him to sack him.

“Many of us have worked closely with Jonathan for a long time, and have mixed emotions,” the boss said.

“Unfortunately, his lack of judgment in this area was too big for him to remain.”

During Mr Friedland’s time at Netflix it has risen to one of the web’s biggest players, reportedly valued at more than 140 billion dollars (£106 billion).

The former journalist joined the firm after working in financial and legal communications for The Walt Disney Company.

He previously spent more than 20 years as a foreign correspondent and editor for the Wall Street Journal and Far Eastern Economic Review, according to his Linkedin profile.

“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 said on Twitter.

“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.”

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