From The Newsletter: For Netflix, Empathy Could Have Been The Key

Key Insights: 

  • In the wake of a Netflix controversy stemming from airing a Dave Chappelle special a lone Black employee has been fired 
  • The company admits to not handling the matter correctly and has apologized as hundreds of employees walked out last week
  • There’s a lesson on leading with intersectionality and empathy in mind 

Netflix is embroiled in controversy after airing a Dave Chappelle special some viewers and Netflix employees found to be transphobic. In the wake of hundreds of employees staging a walkout last week, the streaming company pivoted from a “commitment to creativity” to an apology. DEI leaders weighed in on how the company should have handled the matter differently. 

While this is not the first time Netflix has faced controversy for airing content that offends some viewers, and specifically viewers that belong to diverse communities, the response exemplifies the importance of leading with intersectionality in mind.

A Black, male, entertainer, became one of a few that have come under fire for commentary, or, in Chappelle’s case, making the LGBTQ+ community the butt of jokes. 

What has also become apparent is that this year is tracking to be the deadliest year for trans and non-gender conforming Americans, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Many of these victims are Black and Latinx. 

Ironically, the only Netflix employee that’s been fired as a result of the Dave Chappelle special is a Black program manager

Founders and company leaders from diverse backgrounds often have first-hand experience of being othered at work. This hard-wrought lesson may have a positive impact on leading with more equity, empathy and respect for a wider range of lived experiences.

Monica Melton

Monica Melton is the managing editor of The Plug Insights. She previously covered innovation, technology, and venture capital at Forbes. She has also covered politics at POLITICO, entertainment for Time Out New York, but her most fascinating beat has been covering the intersection of technology, finance, and entrepreneurship. She is an alumna of CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Washington.