News: Baidu PR chief resigns over comments endorsing toxic work culture

Life @ Work

Baidu PR chief resigns over comments endorsing toxic work culture

The media relations chief said she 'only cared about results,' not her employees' personal lives.
Baidu PR chief resigns over comments endorsing toxic work culture

An executive at Chinese technology firm Baidu has stepped down after receiving backlash for her controversial views, which appeared to endorse the industry’s toxic “996” work culture.

Qu Jing, who served as vice president and media relations chief at Baidu, published a series of videos on social media, where she reportedly bragged about how she was online for work 24/7 and followed a strict regimen. She then demanded the same commitment from her direct reports.

Threats against staff

The social media furor, however, prompted the executive to resign and issue a public apology over what she deemed were “external misunderstandings about Baidu’s values and culture”.

The controversial videos were reportedly posted in response to staff members who had earlier complained about their gruelling hours on the job. The complaints allegedly prompted Qu to threaten the employees publicly.

“I can make you jobless in this industry,” Qu reportedly said in one of the clips, adding how employees need to hustle to get things done regardless of the impact on their personal time.

“I’m not your mother,” she allegedly said of her stringent management approach. “I only care about results.”

No weekends off

In one of the videos, Qu reportedly hit back at a team member who complained about Qu’s late-night pings disrupting the employee’s family time and causing their children to cry. The executive also slammed a team member who refused to work on the weekends.

“If you work in public relations, don’t expect weekends off,” she said. “Keep your phone on 24 hours a day; always ready to respond.”

Her sentiments caused an uproar on Chinese social media for the way it resembled the highly criticised “996” culture rampant in the country’s tech sector. The label “996” refers to how employees are pressured to work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. for six days a week.

Before resigning, Qu issued an apology, stating: “Many of the criticisms are very pertinent. I am reflecting deeply and humbly accept them.”

Qu said: “There are many inappropriate [things said] in the video that caused external misunderstandings about the company’s values and corporate culture, causing serious harm. I sincerely apologise.”

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Topics: Life @ Work, #Culture

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