Digital marketing and technology company Clearlink’s CEO, James Clarke, has come under fire after a video of him praising an employee for selling their family dog to meet new in-office requirements was released.
Clarke had suggested that some employees were more committed to the job than others and cited an example of a worker who went to extreme lengths to meet the new requirements.
Clarke explained his reasoning behind the change of heart in a virtual town hall meeting, pointing out quiet quitters, unmotivated or distracted staff, and mothers who are trying to juggle childcare and a full-time job. He challenged his employees to work as hard as him and suggested that full-time caregivers cannot be productive employees.
“I challenge any one of you to outwork me, but you won’t,” Clarke told his employees in the meeting.
“Many of you have tried to tend to your own children and manage your demanding work schedules and responsibilities. While I know you’re doing your best, some would say they’ve even mastered this art; one could also argue that, generally, this path is neither fair to your employer nor fair to those children. I don’t necessarily believe that, but I do believe that only the rarest of full-time caregivers can be productive and full-time employees simultaneously.”
“I learned from one of our leaders that, in the midst of hearing this message, [they] went out and sold their family dog, which breaks my heart as someone who’s been at the head of the humanization of pets movement in other businesses that we’ve built,” he said.
Clarke’s comments sparked an outrage online, with many criticizing him for his insensitivity and lack of empathy. Furthermore, his dismissive comments about working mothers and their ability to balance work and childcare responsibilities have added fuel to the fire.
“Oh my God, this is worse than I expected,” commented one Redditor. “F**k that; my dogs mean more to me than a job,” wrote another.
While a third added: “As someone who volunteers for a dog rescue, this statement kills me in so many ways.”
The backlash on social media highlights the importance of being sensitive to the needs and well-being of employees, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, employers should strive to create a supportive work environment where employees feel valued and respected rather than one that promotes toxic behavior and unrealistic expectations.