Netflix employees and their allies staged a walkout Wednesday to protest Dave Chappelle’s controversial comedy special The Closer. Dozens of protesters showed up outside Netflix’s officer to show support, with more showing up outside the streamer’s San Francisco offices.
Trans* Employee Resource Group, a Netflix employee group, published a list of “firm asks” aimed at co-CEO Ted Sarandos and Netflix itself. It asks for a more diverse hiring initiative to recruit trans, nonbinary, and ethnically diverse leadership, a fund to invest in transgender creators, and disclaimers on hateful and transphobic content.
“We value our trans colleagues and allies, and understand the deep hurt that’s been caused,” Netflix said in a statement. “We respect the decision of any employee who chooses to walk out, and recognize we have much more work to do both within Netflix and in our content.”
The rally was also attended by counter-protesters who turned out in support of Chappelle. They argue that the backlash he is facing over the comedy special is intended to cancel him.
Netflix’s Sarandos previously defended the special in a memo sent to employees. It was confirmed that there was no intention to remove The Closer from the platform. Sarandos has since apologized for sending the message.
“Obviously, I screwed up that internal communication,” he said to Variety. “I did that, and I screwed it up in two ways. First and foremost, I should have led with a lot more humanity. Meaning, I had a group of employees who were definitely feeling pain and hurt from a decision we made. And I think that needs to be acknowledged up front before you get into the nuts and bolts of anything. I didn’t do that.”
Three employees had also been suspended for joining an executive meeting they were not invited to. All three of the employees have since returned to work. Another employee was terminated after leaking confidential information about the special.