For the first time in years, streaming giant Netflix was excluded from the list of the “Best Places to Work” for LGBTQ+ people, compiled by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) in their annual Corporate Equality Index. The reason that led to this decision has everything to do with David Chapelle’s controversial comedy special The Closer, which viewers are still able to find on the streaming platform.
In the show, the comedian makes ‘jokes’ about Trans women’s bodies and questions their identities. He then goes on to defend Harry Potter author JK Rowling’s transphobic comments and describe himself as a member of “Team Terf” referencing Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists, a minority of self-declared feminists who share transphobic sentiments and trans-exclusionary views.
— Roger Hyttinen ? (@rogerhyttinen) October 13, 2021
Netflix already faced substantial backlash over the comedy special back when it was first released on the platform in 2021. Their LGBTQ+ employees staged a company-wide walkout to protest the fact that the comedian was given a platform to share transphobic views and the hashtag #CancelNetflix was trending on Twitter at the time. Despite all this, Netflix refused to pull the special from its streaming service, spurring the resignation of many Trans employees.
For this reason, HRC, which is the largest LGBTQ+ advocacy group in the US, decided that Netflix was not to be included in their Corporate Equality Index, an annual rating that encompasses hundreds of companies. The streaming giant had been scoring a perfect 100 since 2017, something that earns a “best place to work” recognition.
319 businesses participated in our first-ever Corporate Equality Index in 2002. Now in its 20th year, the #CEI2022 saw a total of 1,271 participants, demonstrating the tremendous trajectory of the CEI. Learn more: https://t.co/CgaZHYM303
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) February 1, 2022
This year, however, their absence is noticeable and the reason is clearly stated in the report: “Given the harm experienced by Transgender workers at Netflix as a result of the company’s handling of the release of The Closer, HRC has suspended Netflix’s Corporate Equality Index score and will not be rewarding it with a ‘Best Places to Work’ distinction in the 2022 CEI.”
On a more positive note, the report also mentioned that the organisation and Netflix “are having productive conversations about steps the company could take to demonstrate it is acting in a manner consistent with the values of workplace equality and inclusion and to improve trust among their employees and the public.”
I had a chat with @EquitasHealth about their transition-related care and the goals they have for the future and I'm really excited for the services they want to provide to trans people in Ohio. Please consider donating to my fundraiser for them! https://t.co/DsKLHziYIB
— Terra Field (@RainofTerra) November 29, 2021
Netflix released a statement saying they “respectfully disagree” with this decision and in trying to make their case added: “We offer comprehensive Transgender and non-binary-inclusive care in our US health plans as well as adoption, surrogacy, and parental leave for same-sex couples. And we’ve also worked hard to increase representation on screen. Netflix is the only major entertainment company to have commissioned and published independent research into diversity in our content so that we can better measure our progress.”
Senior Vice President of Research and Training at HRC, Jay Brown, explained how they had initially decided to only deduct 25 points from the company’s score, however, they ultimately agreed that a suspension was the best response to the presence of the comedy special on the platform. In talking to NBC News, Brown said that, “The special itself, the reaction, the response from the company was really tough. As a Trans person, it was hard to watch.”
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