May 28, 2024

Baidu headquarters

Photo: V2images (Getty Images)

Baidu’s head of public relations no longer appears to be employed at the tech giant after sparking widespread backlash for posting several videos telling staff she’s “not [their] mom” and that she “can make [them] jobless in this industry.”

Qu Jing, a top executive at the firm, posted several clips of herself earlier this week on Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, sharing some harsh messages about the need for intense dedication to the company. The posts caused an instant outcry on social media over Qu’s seeming glorification of an intense work culture that is pervasive among Chinese tech companies.

Now Qu is no longer at Baidu, according to reports from the Associated Press and Chinese online news site 36Kr , which first reported the news late Thursday. One unnamed Baidu employee told the AP that Qu no longer appears in the firm’s internal systems.

Qu took down the posts as of Thursday, following considerable backlash on social media platforms like Weibo. She said she had “earnestly read peoples’ opinions and criticisms” and would “deeply reflect” on them, the Financial Times reported.

“Many of the criticisms are very pertinent, I am reflecting deeply and humbly accept them,” she said in a post, according to the AP. “There are many inappropriate (things said) in the video that caused external misunderstandings about the company’s values and corporate culture, causing serious harm. I sincerely apologize.”

With the boom in China’s tech sector, long working hours have become an expectation at companies looking to keep up with their competitors. In 2019, Alibaba founder Jack Ma praised the country’s overtime culture, calling it a “huge blessing.”

In recent years, this culture — referred to as “996,” or working from 9am to 9pm, six days a week — has drawn significant backlash, particularly from younger generations. This has caused companies to become more conscious of their image when it comes to work-life balance. TikTok owner ByteDance reportedly backpedaled its grueling work hours in July 2021, canceling its “big week/small week” policy that required workers to alternate five-day work weeks and six-day workweeks.

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