More than eight months after it fell on Netflix, internal dissent over controversial Dave Chappelle comedy special The closest continues to trouble Netflix’s renowned and innovative corporate culture, with employees now lamenting that the notoriously open lines of communication between upper management and lower ranks have been permanently cut.
“Today, as a manager, we cannot express ourselves in the content or studio teams, and what Ted [co-CEO Ted Sarandos] say go, ”wrote a Netflix official in the anonymous Blind employee forum. “Very top-down culture and even when we raise the issues we see at the start of our shows, our voices go unheard.”
The message was highlighted in a feature piece aired at Vox Media outlets on Thursday, describing a shift in Netflix’s corporate culture away from the “radical transparency” described in the groundbreaking “Culture Memo” by 2009 company.
Vox’s story describes a long-standing Google document at Netflix, where employees of all ranks and departments were encouraged to raise any type of concern or feedback they wanted. Co-CEO Reed Hastings, known for “taking criticism on the chin”, has been known to be quick to respond to those comments seriously.
Creative teams were also encouraged to reach out to Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for feedback on a potentially sensitive topic. This was the case in 2018, when the ERG “Trans*” was asked to review a projection of the Cannes acquisition Daughter. The “horrified” group strongly opposed key scenes in the Camera d’Or-winning film. The Trans*ERG was unable to stop Netflix’s broadcast of Daughterbut he would have been pleased if Netflix officials had agreed to include a content disclaimer.
This exchange would have worked well. Beyond Netflix’s particularly high salaries, it provided an important moral well-being tool in a competitive environment for, say, software engineers, at a time when rivals including former WarnerMedia and HBO Max , certainly could have used better coding help.
But the system is said to have crashed ahead of the October 5 release of The closest.
After the release of an internal briefing outlining many of the red flags associated with the stand-up special, the Google document filled with pointed questions: “If we can gauge members’ appetite for transphobic and bigoted content, will we start to associate ourselves with dangerous celebrities, actors, and intentionally divisive comedians (Owen Benjamin, Alex Jones, Ann Coulter) in order to “entertain the world? ” wrote a poster.
This time, however, a serious response from Netflix’s senior management wasn’t so quick in coming.
The company’s response could best be described by changes to its Culture Memo in May, when this clause was inserted: “As employees, we support the principle that Netflix offers a diversity of stories, even if we find some contrary titles own personal values. Depending on your role, you may need to work on titles that you perceive as harmful. If you’re struggling to support the breadth of our content, Netflix might not be the best place for you.
In the aftermath, Vox’s story laments, provocative conversations about Netflix culture and politics take place in forums like Blind, where users can post to the Netflix forum as long as they have the correct email address. business Netflix.
That dialogue, however, no longer appears on the Google Doc, which has become “another place where Netflix execs can post platitudes.” ▪️