‘I’m not your mother’: Baidu PR chief in hot water for endorsing intense workplace culture

‘I’m not your mother’: Baidu PR chief in hot water for endorsing intense workplace culture‘I’m not your mother’: Baidu PR chief in hot water for endorsing intense workplace culture
via Google Maps
Michelle De Pacina
17 days ago
Qu Jing, the public relations chief of Chinese internet company Baidu, is facing backlash for her controversial comments endorsing a harsh workplace culture.
Key points:
  • In videos posted on Douyin, Qu promoted a demanding management style and dismissed concerns about employees being overworked, “as I’m not your mother,” triggering backlash from young workers. 
  • The incident led to a public relations crisis for Baidu, with stock prices dropping. 
  • Following criticism for her indifference and insensitivity, Qu apologized and stepped down from her position. 
The details:
  • In the now-deleted videos, Qu portrayed herself as a tough manager, dismissing responsibility for considering employees as family and suggesting they resign if unsatisfied. 
  • In one video, she criticized an employee for refusing a 50-day business trip during the COVID-19 pandemic. She reportedly said, “Why should I take my employee’s family into consideration? I’m not her mother-in-law. I’m 10 years, 20 years older than you. I didn’t feel bitter about it or tired, even though I have two children. Who are you to tell me that your husband can’t stand it?”
  • Qu also threatened to derail the careers of employees who complained about her management. “I can make it impossible for you to find a job in this industry with just a short essay,” she wrote.
  • Qu also emphasized her own sacrifices as a working mother, claiming to have forgotten her elder son’s birthday and what grade her younger son is in at school.
  • In another clip, she asserted that those in public relations shouldn’t expect weekends off and should be constantly available. “Keep your phone on 24 hours a day, always ready to respond,” she said. 
  • The remarks fueled immense backlash from young workers who have long complained about the intense and competitive workplace culture in China. She received criticism for threatening subordinates and being insensitive to work-life balance. 
Qu’s apology:
  • Subsequently, Qu’s controversial remarks sparked a public relations crisis for the Chinese search engine company, leading to a significant drop in stock prices by 2.17% on Tuesday.
  • The backlash prompted Qu to apologize. She released a statement on her personal account on WeChat, writing, “I have carefully read all the opinions and comments from various platforms, and many criticisms are very pertinent. I deeply reflect on and humbly accept them.”
  • “I apologize that the inappropriate videos led to the public’s misunderstanding of my company’s values and corporate culture,” she added, noting that her remarks were merely her opinion and did not reflect Baidu’s stance. “I will learn from my mistakes and improve the way I communicate, and care more for my colleagues.”
  • According to the Economic Review, a state-run financial news outlet, Qu has reportedly stepped down from her position as vice president and head of communications. Baidu has yet to confirm the news. 
  • Qu, who was a reporter before going into the PR industry, previously worked at Huawei, known for its intense corporate culture. This experience influenced her approach at Baidu, leading to internal discontent and high turnover within the PR team. 
China’s work culture: 
  • The incident reflects the growing opposition to China’s demanding work culture, known as “996,” involving long hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week. 
  • Younger generations have started resisting the government’s emphasis on hard work and productivity by embracing a passive lifestyle using ​​the “lying flat” philosophy, which rejects ambition and consumerism. 
  • The “lying flat” movement has led to trends like wearing pajamas to work, young professionals quitting their jobs and throwing resignation parties and students posting unflattering graduation photos to reflect the reality of China’s tough job market. 
Share this Article
© 2024 NextShark, Inc. All rights reserved.