The CEO of a Utah-based digital marketing company is facing some heat for commending an employee for selling their pet dog after he forced them to return to the office.
In a virtual town hall last week, Clearlink CEO James Clarke used it as an example of the “sacrifices that are being made” for the company.
“I’ve sacrificed and those of you that are here have sacrificed greatly to be here as well,” he said in video meeting with staff to address the mandated office return. This was first reported by Vice News.
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“I learned from one of our leaders that in the midst of hearing this message, went out and sold their family dog, which breaks my heart as someone who’s been at the head of the humanization of pets movement in other businesses that we’ve built.”
The video was originally uploaded to YouTube and posted in the antiwork subreddit. According to Vice, Clearlink got the sites to take down the video over a copyright claim. Vice obtained and shared an edited version of Clarke’s remarks on Wednesday.
You can watch the video here.
The CEO’s decision to mandate in-office work apparently came as a surprise to employees. In an email from October obtained by Vice, Clarke had said that he had “no plans” to enforce in-person work.
Some Clearlink employees had also been hired with the understanding that the company was “remote-first.”
Clearlink has been in the same boat as other tech companies that have had to cut jobs due to the uncertain economy.
So, the company told staff earlier this month that “circumstances” had “changed.” In an April 3 email, Clarke told staff that people who live within 50 miles of Clearlink’s headquarters in Draper, Utah, would have to come into the office for four days a week starting on April 17, reported Vice.
And in the video meeting, Clarke hammered down the reason for the decision.
He claimed that about 30 remote employees “didn’t even crack open laptops,” calling them out for “quiet quitting.”
He suggested that some of their developers could be secretly working for multiple companies, and asked staff to increase productivity “30 to 50 times” its normal production.
“There’s not one of you here, and I challenge anyone of you here to outwork me, but you won’t,” he said.
The internet is not impressed with how Clearlink has treated its employees.
“Who would want to work for someone like this? American work culture is the worst,” someone commented on the original Reddit post.
Another person on Twitter advised people not to support Clearlink brands.
If anyone is a fan of @PennyHoarder they’re one of Clearlink’s brands, aka this psychopath’s brands, so I’d advise against them.
Plenty of other PF blogs to visit that are run by, you know, decent human beings.https://t.co/QqvqFtYGje https://t.co/jKecMUeMcy
— Azrael, RN — FIRE Enthusiast (@FrugalNurseFIRE) April 19, 2023
Clarke isn’t the first CEO to make out-of-pocket comments. The CEO of a major American furniture company is under fire for scolding workers who asked for bonuses.