James Clarke, the CEO of Clearlink, questioned the abilities of “breadwinning mothers” and told a story of an employee who had to sell the family dog to return to the office.
“I challenge any one of you to outwork me, but you won’t,” is just one choice quote in a spectacular rant from James Clarke, the CEO of Clearlink, a digital marketing company from Utah. He also told a story about an employee who sold the family dog to return to office.
His rant went viral, trending on top of Reddit, on the front page of Vice, getting hundreds of thousands of views on Youtube.
Clarke hosted a virtual meeting where he addressed issues with a forced return-to-office order for his employees and his approach would put even the most toxic CEO you can think of to shame. The insensitive comments from MillerKnoll’s CEO earlier this week, who told employees to “leave Pity City”, pale into comparison to Clarke’s tirade. The video was taken down from Reddit and YouTube but Vice still has a copy, if you want to hear for yourself.
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Clarke told employees an anecdote about another employee who had to sell their family dog to return to the office.
You’d think you can’t go any lower than that but Clarke tried to twist it in an empathetic tone – which doesn’t work if you’re a late-stage capitalist armed with the jargon of a marketer.
About the dog anecdote, he said that the story “breaks my heart, as someone who’s been at the head of the humanization of pets movement in other businesses that we’ve built.”
According to Gizmodo, which did a wonderful chronicle of this unhinged rant, Clarke spent 10 years on the board of the company PetIQ, hence the “humanization of pets” line.
Clarke also told his content writers that they should use AI to increase their output “30-50 times our normal production”, and accused others of having jobs at other companies without informing Clearlink. Worse off, he spent quite some time questioning if the women in his company who had children were capable of working for the company – and insinuating that women couldn’t raise children and have jobs.
“Breadwinning mothers were hit the very hardest by this pandemic. Many of you have tried to tend your own children and in doing so also manage your demanding work schedules and responsibilities. And while I know you’re doing your best… one could argue this path is neither fair to your employer, nor fair to those children,” he said.
He later added that “I don’t necessarily believe that. But I do believe that only the rarest of full-time caregivers can also be a productive and full-time employee at the same time. You may take issue with any part of this, but I believe the data will also support this in time.”
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All in all, it’s no wonder that part of his rant was prompted by no less than 30 of his employees quietly quitting the company.
If you’re wondering about the lead image of this story, that’s a snapshot of James Clarke in the copy of the meeting video hosted by Vice – the part where he complained about being discriminated for his religion.
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