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May 20, 2024

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Provocative views of former Baidu executive touch a raw nerve

Outrageous remarks by Qu Jing, a former vice president and head of communications at Baidu, continue to have ramifications, although Qu has left the company.

Qu’s series of video statements sparked a public relations crisis for the Chinese search engine company, though it is not clear if the controversy was not uncourted, given the amount of fandom the expose has garnered Qu, and in view of a new company Qu allegedly registered shortly before tendering her resignation.

In several short videos on Douyin, Qu, with her hair closely cropped, shared some takeaways from her strict, demanding management style.

In one video, she says she would sign off “within a second” the resignation of an employee who refused to take a business trip because of her troubled marriage, for she (Qu) had no obligation to be involved in the employee’s domestic affairs, “because I am not her mother-in-law.”

In another clip she claims a PR person has no Spring Festivals, weekends, or holidays. Their mobile phones must be on all the time, and they should be ready to be summoned at any time.

She also threatened that those who complained about her style wouldn’t get jobs in the industry.

In yet another video she claimed she forgot one of her sons’ birthdays, though she remembers those of her colleagues, to the chagrin of a career woman.

These provocative statements hit the nerve with younger employees, particularly those at tech giants fed up with notoriously long hours and constant pressure to perform.

Although in a subsequent statement Qu said her posts did not represent Baidu’s stance, it did little to appease the public rage.

It is disturbing that although her remarks were a perfect recipe for a PR disaster, they are true to a certain extent.

Her trouble seemed to lie more in her open endorsement of these principles, which betrayed a callousness and ruthlessness inconsistent with the projected public image of a good PR.

And, unbeknownst to Qu, truly great modern companies do show considerable empathy for their employees, for the domestic stability and harmony of employees are valuable, if hidden, assets vital to the lasting success of a respectable company.

Even digital giants in the age of globalization should work hard to create a work environment humanized by sincere solicitation for individual employees, so that the employees might work to the utmost of their competency, thus creating real value for the employers, rather than just pretend to be working hard.

It is easy to conclude that efficiency is born more of a welcoming ambience of equality, mutual help, trust and openness, than relentless profit-driven rapacity, given the younger labor force’s growing concern for self-actualization, well defined work hours, and work-family balance.

Compared with their predecessors, they are more ready to pack up and go.

A company where employees feel respected and appreciated will go farther, and fare better.


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