Joshua Ma, a senior executive at Chinese company ByteDance, which owns TikTok, has been removed from his post after saying he “doesn’t believe” in maternity leave. According to an email sent to the team on Wednesday (8) and accessed by the Financial Times, Ma will “take a breather” and step down as leader of the UK e-commerce team, where he has a cultural team stand-off with the company’s employees.
The British newspaper reports that the successor to what will be Patrick Nomensen, who spearheaded the launch of e-commerce in the UK and was responsible for the creative processes, as well as beauty and other categories.
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According to his LinkedIn profile, Nommensen has worked for ByteDance since 2016, when TikTok was launched, and also for Musical.ly, a viral music app that ByteDance acquired in 2017.
The decision to replace the executive follows an investigation by the Financial Times. The newspaper revealed that he made these statements at a dinner with employees of the e-commerce team at TikTok in London. The company said it was also conducting an investigation into the allegations.
“As you know, today the Financial Times published an article with some frustrating claims about our UK operations. We hope this traumatic experience will make us a stronger, closer and better team in the long run,” read the email titled “Maintaining a Positive Work Culture”.
The email also asked employees to report any violations of the ByteDance Code of Conduct through an anonymous hotline. TikTok declined to comment on the email, according to the Financial Times.
The article reveals employee complaints
Based on testimony from current and former employees, the article in the British newspaper revealed how the launch of TikTok’s direct shopping feature in the UK led to a mass exodus of employees from the e-commerce team in London. Some employees complained of an aggressive company culture, with unrealistic goals and expectations at odds with British business practices.
Employees said they should work more than 12 hours a day, start early to answer calls with China and finish work late, because live broadcasts were more successful at night.
Some employees had to leave client accounts after taking a vacation.
In the email sent to the team, TikTok said it is investing heavily in expanding resources, structures, and processes to provide a positive experience for its employees. “The well-being of our team is our top priority… [e] Driving 100% is in favor of using annual leave to fully recharge and spend time with friends and family.”
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