"We value our trans colleagues and allies, and understand the deep hurt that’s been caused," a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to Fox Business. "We respect the decision of any employee who chooses to walk out, and recognize we have much more work to do both within Netflix and in our content."
The walkout is scheduled for 10:30 am PST on Wednesday at a Netflix office in Hollywood, Cali. and was organized in protest of "The Closer," a recent comedy special by Dave Chappelle in which he made remarks that some viewed as offensive to the transgender community.
In "The Closer," which was released earlier this month and is currently among the most-watched programs on the service in the U.S., Chappelle said "gender is a fact" and said he identified as a "TERF," an acronym that stands for "trans-exclusionary radical feminist." He also compared the transgender community to people who wear blackface.
Besides backlash aimed at Chappelle for his words, Netflix's co-CEO Ted Sarandos also found himself in hot water.
In emails to Netflix staff after the special’s debut earlier this month, Sarandos defended "The Closer," citing its popularity on the platform and the company’s commitment to creative freedom. He also said the company believed "content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm."
Now, Sarandos admitted he "screwed up" with that statement. In an interview with Deadline, the exec said, "I screwed up the internal communication — and I don’t mean just mechanically," he said. "I feel I should’ve made sure to recognize that a group of our employees was hurting very badly from the decision made, and I should’ve recognized upfront before going into a rationalization of anything the pain they were going through. I say that because I respect them deeply, and I love the contribution they have at Netflix. They were hurting, and I should’ve recognized that first."
Sarandos said his remarks on content not causing real-world harm was also an oversimplification and lacking in humanity.
"To be clear, storytelling has an impact in the real world…sometimes quite negative," he said.
Nonetheless, Sarandos clarified that he isn’t second-guessing the decision to carry "The Closer," nor are there plans to remove it from the streaming giant’s platform.
"We have articulated to our employees that there are going to be things you don’t like," Sarandos said. "There are going to be things that you might feel are harmful. But we are trying to entertain a world with varying tastes and varying sensibilities and various beliefs, and I think this special was consistent with that," he added.
Sarandos said standup comedy is "designed to stir up emotions" and while Netflix prides itself on having an inclusive staff and programming featuring a range of diverse voices, "sometimes inclusion and artistic expression bump into each other," he said.
Meanwhile, Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings refused to answer any questions about the Chappelle controversy on Monday while at the Milken Conference, per Deadline.
"It’s a no comment, we are really focused today on what we can do for kids around the country," he said.
Fox Business' Joe Flint contributed to this report.