from the missing-the-mark dept
In the wake of the SCOTUS draft leak of a decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade, plenty of tech companies have begun scrambling to get public and internal messaging out. We recently discussed how game studio Bungie had put out a statement disagreeing with the draft ruling and committing to its own staff to give them the support it can on these matters of health. This approach is being mirrored all over the tech industry, and elsewhere, but it’s notable that Bungie is set to become a subsidiary of Sony’s in the very near future as a result of an acquisition. The reason that’s notable is because PlayStation chief Jim Ryan recently addressed his own internal staff on the SCOTUS leak and it’s… a something.
His opening wasn’t bad, though it will likely only serve to rile up both ends of the abortion rights spectrum with a call for mutual respect of opinions.
In the email, which Bloomberg has seen and Kotaku has confirmed was sent out to internally hired staff, Ryan writes that the company, its employees, and its players are a “multi-faceted and diverse” community and that they all hold “many different points of view.” He also wrote that staff and the company “owe it to each other and to PlayStation’s millions of users to respect differences of opinion among everyone in our internal and external communities. Respect does not equal agreement. But it is fundamental to who we are as a company and as a valued global brand.”
As I said with Bungie’s statement, which took a different tact, there is very little in this that anyone should be angry about. What Ryan states about his staff and their multi-faceted viewpoints is almost certainly true. And, while calls for respect and unity are somewhat tired in these times of social distress, it’s certainly not a request that reads as ridiculous.
Unlike Ryan then using the same email to take a jaunty turn towards his own cats.
Ryan wanted to share something that was “lighthearted” in an attempt to “inspire everyone to be mindful of having a balance that can help ease the stress of uncertain world events.” (Stress that a powerful president of a large company could perhaps more effectively ease by supporting his staff and their rights…)
He then spent a reported five paragraphs in the email talking about his two cats’ first birthdays, the noises they make, and his dream of one day owning a dog. Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier additionally reported via Twitter that Ryan wrote “that dogs really are man’s best friend, they know their place, and perform useful functions like biting burglars and chasing balls that you throw for them.”
Insert yourself, just for a moment, into the shoes of someone working for Ryan and who is concerned one way or the other about what is a very important social issue that’s going to undergo a monumental change. Imagine the whiplash you would feel reading the opening of the email only to then get a deep dive into Ryan’s opinions on common furry friends he has. Imagine reading an email about abortion rights that then turns to lauding dogs because they “know their place.”
And now imagine just how many times Ryan must have hit himself in the head with a hammer such that he thought pumping this bizarre email out was a good idea.
As you might expect, some staff weren’t happy with the email. Bloomberg reports that internal discussion about the email was negative, with many sharing their anger and disappointment over the tone of the letter and its lack of a stance in support of reproductive rights. One employee reportedly wrote that they had “never been so mad about a cat birthday before.” Some women at the company allegedly wrote that they felt their rights had been disrespected or even trivialized by Ryan’s email.
Maybe those female employees would be more respected if they would simply “know their place.” You know, like dogs. Or maybe their boss could simply do a better job of reading the room next time he wants to fire off an email.