Netflix tells employees to quit if they can't work on content they disagree with

Streaming service has revised its company culture guidelines to include an 'artistic expression' clause

Netflix has updated guidelines in the wake of continuing personnel protests against Dave Chappelle’s stand-up special 'The Closer'. Photo by Alex Edelman  /  AFP
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Netflix has warned staff that they should be prepared to work on content that they deem to be "harmful", or look for a job elsewhere.

The streaming major revised its company culture guidelines for the first time since 2017 to include an “artistic expression” clause that says employees should set aside their personal values when working on its titles.

“As employees, we support the principle that Netflix offers a diversity of stories," reads a memo by the company, titled Netflix Culture — Seeking Excellence. "Even if we find some titles counter to our own personal values."

Employees that weren’t comfortable doing so were advised to quit.

“Depending on your role, you may need to work on titles you perceive to be harmful,” the memo continued. “If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.”

The broadcaster said in its commitment to cater to different tastes and points of view, it offers “a wide variety of TV shows and movies, some of which can be provocative".

“To help members make informed choices about what to watch, we offer ratings, content warnings and easy to use parental controls," it said. “Not everyone will like — or agree with — everything on our service.

“While every title is different, we approach them based on the same set of principles: we support the artistic expression of the creators we choose to work with; we programme for a diversity of audiences and tastes; and we let viewers decide what’s appropriate for them, versus having Netflix censor specific artists or voices.”

The updated guidelines come in the wake of continuing personnel protests against Dave Chappelle’s stand-up special The Closer, which debuted on Netflix in October. The US comedian was criticised for making transphobic comments, with Netflix staff staging a walkout to demonstrate their disapproval.

The walkout did not sway Netflix chief executive Ted Sarandos, who maintained his support for Chappelle’s special, saying in an internal memo that it didn’t cross “the line on hate”. The show remains on the streaming service.

Updated: May 15, 2022, 8:44 AM