Employees at Netflix walked out of the company’s Los Angeles and New York offices on Wednesday to demand better support for the company’s trans and non-binary employees.
The employee strike action, which was accompanied by a solidarity rally and statements of support from organizations across the country as well as high-profile Hollywood talent, comes in the wake of the company’s handling of a contentious new comedy special from comedian Dave Chappelle and marks one of the company’s largest and most extensive public relations crises yet.
The greatest protest took place outside of the company’s offices in Los Angeles, when employees and supporters met some Dave Chappelle fans. Staffers have also presented Netflix with a list of demands, which was first published in The Verge, and includes requests for Netflix to better nurture trans and non-binary talent as well as the addition of disclaimers to certain titles that contain transphobic content and other forms of hate speech.
A list of demands for Netflix has been posted by the trans employee resource group ahead of Wednesday’s walkout. Employees wrote in a press release that has not yet been made public but were provided to The Verge, “We want the company to adopt measures in the areas of content investment, employee relations, and safety, and harm reduction, all of which are necessary to avoid future instances of platforming transphobia and hate speech.”
Netflix fired a trans-ERG leader who was helping to organize the walkout last week. This employee, according to the firm, had divulged confidential information. That logic has been questioned within the company.
Below is the complete letter from Netflix employees:
Over the past few weeks, it has become clear that there are many places where Netflix still has to grow when it comes to content relating to the trans and non-binary community.
The Trans* Employee Resource Group, which includes trans and non-binary colleagues as well as our numerous allies, wants Netflix to immediately take the steps below to begin to repair the relationship between the Company, our colleagues, and our audience. Specifically, we want the Company to adopt measures in the areas of Content Investment, Employee Relations, and Safety, and Harm Reduction, all of which are necessary to avoid future instances of platforming transphobia and hate speech, and to account for the harm we have caused and will continue to cause until the below measures are put in place.
Create a new fund to specifically develop trans and non-binary talent
This fund should support both above-the-line (ATL) and below-the-line (BTL) talent;
Increase investment in trans and non-binary content on Netflix comparable to
our total investment in transphobic content, including marketing and promotion;
Invest in multiple trans creators to make both scripted and unscripted programs across genres;
Revise internal processes on commissioning and releasing potential harmful
(“sensitive”) content, including but not limited to involving parties who are a part of the subject community and can speak to potential harm or consulting with 3rd party experts/vendors;
Increase the ERG role in conversations around potentially harmful content and
ensure we have best in class regional support on complicated intersectional diversity issues;
Hire trans and non-binary content executives, especially BIPOC, in leading
Employee Relations and Safety
Recruit trans people, especially BIPOC, for leadership roles in the company
(Director, VP, etc.) and promote an inclusive environment for them;
Allow employees to remove themselves from previous company promotional
content (e.g. allyship and diversity videos, etc.);
Eliminate references/imagery of transphobic titles or talent inside of the
workplace, including but not limited to murals, posters, room names, swag;
Acknowledge the harm and Netflix’s responsibility for this harm from
transphobic content, and in particular harm to the Black trans community;
Add a disclaimer before transphobic titles that specifically flag transphobic
language, misogyny, homophobia, hate speech, etc. as required;
Boost promotion for Disclosure and other trans-affirming titles in the platform;
Suggest trans-affirming content alongside and after content flagged as
We are employees, but we are members, too. We believe that this Company can and must do better in our quest to entertain the world and that the way forward must include more diverse voices in order to avoid causing more harm.
The Trans* ERG looks forward to working with the Company to make this a better, more entertaining place for us all.
The Closer, a film by Dave Chappelle, was released on Netflix on Oct. 5 and sparked a firestorm. The program, which became one of Netflix’s most popular U.S. titles shortly after its premiere, contains numerous insulting remarks against trans people and the trans community, including a comparison of trans persons to those who wear blackface.
Netflix officials had initially spoken out in support of Dave Chappelle and the substance of his special, before retaliating against two members of Netflix’s trans employee resource group who had spoken out against the show’s handling. However, the company’s position is shifting now.
The spokesperson added in a statement released before the walkout, “We value our trans colleagues and allies, and realize the great hurt that has been inflicted.” “We appreciate any employee’s decision to leave, and we acknowledge that we still have a lot of work to do both within Netflix and in our programming.”