China’s tech exec’s fiery support of a toxic workplace culture sparked a backlash — and cost him his job

China’s tech exec’s fiery support of a toxic workplace culture sparked a backlash — and cost him his job

A Chinese tech executive has sparked outrage in China with his fiery support of a toxic workplace culture, which ultimately cost him his own job.

Qu Jing, the former vice president and head of communications at Baidu, often dubbed China’s equivalent of Google, sparked a public relations crisis for the Chinese search engine after his controversial comments struck a raw nerve with young workers fed up with grueling hours and relentless pressure.

In a series of short videos posted last week on Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, Qu talked about his dedication to his career, strict management style and relentless demands on his direct reports.

In one video, he lashed out at a worker who refused to take a 50-day business trip during the Covid-19 pandemic, when China imposed strict travel restrictions and quarantines.

“Why do I have to consider my employee’s family? I am not his mother-in-law,” said Qu. “I’m 10 years, 20 years older than you. I don’t feel bitter about it or jaded, even though I have two kids. Who are you to tell me that your husband can’t stand it?”

In another clip, Qu shares her personal sacrifices as a working mother. He works so hard that he forgets his eldest son’s birthday and what grade his youngest son is in school. She said she has no regrets because she “chose to be a career woman.”

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

In another video, he also threatened to retaliate against workers who complained about him, saying they would never get another job in the industry.

The American Psychological Association describes a “toxic workplace” as an environment full of fights, intimidation and other insults that harm productivity.

Following public outcry, Qu has lost his own job at Baidu ( BIDU ), a person familiar with the matter told CNN on condition of anonymity. CNN has also seen screenshots of internal personnel systems that appear to confirm he no longer works at the company.

Baidu did not immediately respond to a request for comment. By Thursday night, Qu had removed the title of “vice president of Baidu” from his Douyin account.

Qu had apologized earlier in the day and said his post did not speak for Baidu.

‘Lack of empathy’
The controversy soon became a trending topic on Douyin and Weibo, China’s X-like platform, which dominates online discussion. Users criticized Qu for his aggressive and insensitive approach and accused him, and Baidu, of promoting a toxic workplace.

“In his voice and tone, there is indifference and a lack of empathy for the common plight of his colleagues,” said Ivy Yang, a China technology analyst and founder of consulting firm Wavelet Strategy.

“A lot of what he says is really surprising, because people feel it in their own workplaces very often. The fact that he says it in a very direct and in-your-face way, it just creates this kind of emotional response,” he said.

“This is what the boss thinks, and he just said it out loud,” Yang added.

China’s young workers are increasingly speaking out against the culture of overwork and extreme competitiveness that has come to dominate many industries, especially the technology sector.

In 2019, Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma came under fire after endorsing the “996” trend, meaning working from 9am to 9pm. six days a week, and called it a “great blessing.”

Yang described the backlash against Ma as a “pivotal moment” that prompted people to rethink the relationship between the workplace and themselves — a trend that is growing as China’s economy slows.

China’s economy is growing stronger than expected earlier this year, but problems – including a real estate crisis, declining foreign investment and weak consumption – are mounting.

“When companies demand complete loyalty, time and energy from their employees, employees feel no reciprocity or reward for their sacrifices or contributions, especially when things slow down. That becomes the main conflict, and this conflict is also the essence of Baidu’s story,” added Yang.

As public anger grew, the video posted on Qu’s personal Douyin account was taken down.

‘Points that don’t match’
After a few days of silence, Qu apologized on Thursday “caused a huge storm” in a post on her personal account on WeChat, China’s most popular social media app.

“I have carefully read all opinions and comments from various platforms, and many criticisms are very relevant. I deeply contemplated and accepted them humbly,” Qu wrote.

He also sought to put distance between his statements and Baidu’s, saying he did not seek prior approval and that they did not represent the company’s position.

“There are many inappropriate and inappropriate things made in the video, leading to a misunderstanding of the company’s values and culture, causing serious harm,” Qu wrote.

A person familiar with the matter said Qu’s clip was part of his push to strengthen Baidu’s voice on the short-form video platform, which has become an increasingly important channel for disseminating information in China.

Qu has asked all members of the PR team to create their personal accounts, according to the person, who asked not to be named.

“The main goal is to improve everyone’s ability to make short videos. Everyone can have different choices about content, and Cristina chose to talk about her personal experience,” said the person, referring to Qu’s English name.

Qu worked as a reporter for China’s state news agency Xinhua before moving into the PR industry. He joined Baidu in 2021 from Huawei, a Chinese tech giant known for its harsh “wolf culture,” where employees are expected to emulate the bloodthirsty, fearless and resilient nature of wolves.

A former Baidu employee said Qu brought Huawei’s aggressive corporate culture with him to Baidu.

“(He caused) quite a culture shock. About 60% of the team left within months of his arrival,” the former employee told CNN on condition of anonymity.

PR teams are expected to be on call, turn on their phones, respond to messages immediately and attend meetings at midnight and on weekends at short notice, the former employee said.

Qu also adopted the military-style language used in corporate management at Huawei, which required the team to be “disciplined” and “capable of winning battles,” the former employee said.

CNN has reached out to Huawei for comment.

This article has been updated with additional information.

About Kepala Bergetar

Kepala Bergetar Kbergetar Live dfm2u Melayu Tonton dan Download Video Drama, Rindu Awak Separuh Nyawa, Pencuri Movie, Layan Drama Online.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *