Klarna faces backlash after CEO shares names of laid-off workers on social media


Klarna Bank is playing defense after its CEO stirred controversy by publishing on LinkedIn the names of hundreds of employees the lender had recently laid off.

The financial technology company said last week that it would cut about 10% of its roughly 5,000 workers to trim costs after a loss of $487 million last year. On May 30, Klarna CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski followed up with a LinkedIn post that included a Google spreadsheet listing hundreds of the laid-off workers by name, with the goal of connecting them to recruiters and helping them find new jobs. 

Siemiatkowski expressed “mixed feelings” about the document, calling it “a tangible symbol of a very hard decision that saddens me deeply and will stay with me for a long period of time.” 

Publication of the document drew mixed, and heated, replies, with at least two critics calling him “tone deaf.” Others questioned the wisdom of sharing thousands of email addresses in a public document, leading J. Tyler Wilson, the Klarna employee who put it together, to delete the email column from the document.

“Maybe Klarna should consider new leadership, not letting go of talented staff,” one person wrote in response to the LinkedIn post. 

Key Speakers At IFGS UK FinTech Week Event
Sebastian Siemiatkowski, CEO of Klarna Bank, at the IFGS 2022 summit at the Guildhall in London, U.K., on Monday, April 4, 2022. 

Bloomberg


Yet others applauded Siemiatowski’s efforts to help former workers find new employment. Employees whose names appeared on the list signed up for it voluntarily, and its content is not owned or managed by the company, Klarna said in an email to CBS MoneyWatch. 

“Our CEO, Sebastian, is highlighting the initiative on his own public channels to increase visibility across his expansive network of employers and recruiters,” a spokesperson stated.

On Twitter, Siemiatkowski underscored that former employees had opted into the list. The document was “created by employees themselves, voluntarily, in a great attempt to increase their own visibility towards recruiters. I am simply sharing something they started,” he tweeted on Wednesday.

The decision to publicly identify laid-off employees follows recent missteps by other companies that cut workers. Better.com’s CEO sparked outrage after canning 900 employees on a Zoom call in December, while auto retailer Carvana used Zoom to cut 2,500 workers in May. Both companies were criticized as insensitive for dumping employees by video rather than in person, as was customary before the COVID-19 pandemic. 





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