CEO Accuses Workers of 'Quiet Quitting,' Taking Care of Kids

Clearlink's James Clarke made some eyebrow-raising comments on remote work at town hall
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2023 8:31 AM CDT

The CEO of a digital marketing and tech firm is taking a fair amount of flak after remarks that targeted remote workers and working moms. James Clarke, head of Utah-based Clearlink, spoke during a companywide town hall last week to discuss a recent return-to-work order now that the pandemic has receded from its worst days. Among the reasons Clarke apparently wants everyone back in their offices and cubicles: He doesn't seem to think they've been pulling their weight as telecommuters, insinuating that some have been mailing it in (ie, "quietly quitting"), others secretly working multiple jobs, and still others seemingly not doing any work at all, reports CNN Business.

"I got data that about 30 of you didn't even open or crack open laptops ... for a whole month," Clarke said, per Insider. He also seemed to indicate that he didn't think primary caregivers could simultaneously juggle the tasks of a full-time job. "While I know you're doing your best ... one could also argue that generally, this path is neither fair to your employer, nor fair to those children," he noted. "I do believe that only the rarest of full-time caregivers can also be a productive and full-time employee at the same time." He suggested that women in particular—especially single moms—were most challenged in this respect.

"That is not a criticism of the noble nature of motherhood, nor the ability to do both well," he said, per CNN. "But there are only so many waking hours in each day." Clarke also appeared to offer praise for one unnamed worker who'd "sold their family dog" to focus more on work, though he conceded that hearing about it "breaks my heart," per Gizmodo. Video of Clarke's comments has since circulated, with one clip already taken down from YouTube due to a copyright claim. A supercut still exists at Motherboard, however, which first reported on the story; a longer version was still up on Reddit as of Friday morning.

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In a statement to CNN, Clearlink acknowledged that workers have been asked to come back into the office four days a week. Motherboard notes that the order applies to those workers who live within a 50-mile radius of the Draper office. The company didn't address Clarke's comments, but a rep noted to Insider: "James Clarke could not be more excited about the future of the company." Not everyone else is as excited. Reaction to his comments ranged from being called "the world's worst CEO" to shrugs from those who seemed to imply that the company's staffers should be grateful for their jobs and salaries. Many, though, seemed to agree that it didn't seem like a great way to motivate his workers. "Who would be stupid enough to work for this guy," one commenter wrote. (More CEOs stories.)

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