Updated as of 5/19/2022 at 3p.m. ET: Netflix has now responded to the recent news of mass layoffs.
In an official statement sent to The Root, a Netflix spokesperson explained: “We are making changes to how we support our publishing efforts, including bringing some of this important work in-house. Our social channels continue to grow and innovate, and we are investing heavily in them.”
Additionally, they further clarified that the some changes the popular streamer is making are centered around how it runs all of their social/publishing efforts, which includes all of its verticals like Netflix Geek, Netflix Film, and Netflix is a Joke in addition to Strong Black Lead, Golden, Most, and Con Todo. It was also noted that all of those aforementioned channels were always “run in-house,” but were “supported by agency contractors,” and they wanted to “bring some of the important work in-house.” But they assured that those verticals “always have and will still be run in-house” and by people from those communities.
It was also noted that the layoffs only represented 2% of Netflix’s employee base and impacted several different teams.
See original story below:
Nearly three weeks after Netflix laid off workers under their branded content arm, Tudum—which was comprised of predominately Black women and women of color staffers and contractors—it appears more folks working under several other divisions dedicated to promoting and highlighting diverse content have also been affected in this latest round of mass layoffs.
According to the L.A. Times, on Tuesday, the popular streamer announced it would be letting go of 150 full-time employees “amid a slowdown in revenue and a decline in subscribers.” In a statement announcing the layoffs, a Netflix spokesperson explained that the reasoning behind the decision was “primarily driven by business needs rather than individual performance.” (Yeah, OK. Sure, Jan. “Business needs” or not, like in any other situation where people are let go, individual lives and livelihoods were still negatively impacted IN THE MIDDLE OF A WHOLE PANDEMIC AND RECESSION AND SNOOP DOGG-LEVEL HIGH INFLATION NO LESS. But I digress.)
As the news began to spread online, and several Netflix employees and/or contractors began sharing that they had been affected by the layoffs, an unfortunate trend began emerging—a trend that was eerily reminiscent of what had previously transpired just three weeks ago. Most of the immensely talented folks who had been let go were BIPOC and/or members of the LGBTQ+ community who worked under several of the streamer’s popular arms dedicated to highlighting and promoting diverse content, like the African-American-centric Strong Black Lead (one of my personal favorites); the LGBTQ+ driven team, Most; the LatinX-centric arm, Con Todo; and the Asian-focused team, Golden.
In addition to that, per Variety, Netflix is also expected to cut “70 part-time jobs at the animation studio related to projects that aren’t moving ahead” and an “unspecified number of freelance jobs in its social media and publishing group.” Some of those animated projects include Ava DuVernay’s Wings of Fire, Antiracist Baby with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, and the hybrid documentary Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You. Insiders at Netflix attribute those cuts to creative issues and not cost issues, but honestly, I’m not sure if that explanation is any better.
At this point, there probably isn’t any explanation that can be given when it comes to Black, Brown, Indigenous, AAPI and LGBTQ+ folks losing their livelihoods—especially when most of them were recruited for their expertise, experience and talents in the first place.
We’ve long known that companies—media and digital media companies in particular—aren’t loyal when it comes to their workers, but damn. Seeing news like this in the midst of everything else going on is beyond messed up and as someone who also works in media, it’s unsettling and sobering to realize that at any point the bottom could also drop over in our neck of the woods, too. Here’s hoping that all those affected find a home better suited for their talents soon. Keep fightin’ the good fight y’all, you got this.
Correction as of 5/20/2022 at 3:15p.m. ET: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Netflix’s Tudum arm had “essentially been shut down” three weeks ago. It has been updated to reflect that change.