A TIKTOK executive has left his role after saying women should not receive maternity leave from the workplace.
Joshua Ma, the former head of e-commerce at TikTok Europe, shocked London-based staff when he said at a dinner party that as a ‘capitalist’, he did not believe companies should offer maternity leave, the Financial Times (FT) reported.
The comments reportedly prompted outrage from UK-based employees, resulting in the senior executive stepping down from his role.
TikTok said it has been investigating the comments "to determine whether there has been a breach of company policies".
While the investigation is underway, Ma will "take some time off", according to an internal email sent by TikTok that was reviewed by FT.
"As you may be aware, the Financial Times today published an article that had some disheartening allegations about our TikTok Shop Operations in the UK," the email to staff read.
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"Hopefully, this painful experience will make us a stronger, closer, and better team over the long term."
Ma has been employed with ByteDance (TikTok’s parent company) since 2018 and began leading TikTok Europe's e-commerce team in August 2021.
A 'toxic' workplace culture
Ma's alleged comments highlighted a broader issue of workplace toxicity at TikTok.
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An investigation conducted by FT found that the e-commerce team has halved since TikTok Shop launched in October 2021.
"There are people leaving every week, it is like a game — every Monday we ask who has been fired, who has quit," one current employee said.
Team members claimed they are often expected to work more than 12-hour days to accommodate Chinese hours of operation, which led to high levels of stress and burnout.
Employees also added that they were tasked with reaching "unrealistic revenue targets".
"The culture is really toxic. Relationships there are built on fear, not cooperation," a former London-based team leader said.
"They don’t care about burnout because it is such a big company, they can just replace you. They coast on the TikTok brand."
On Glassdoor, several former TikTok employees also said the company's work procedures and ethics failed them.
"They did not investigate a claim for harassment for 3 months and finally, when I decided to leave as it became unbearable, they contacted me to ask me for more details about my complaint," the former employee wrote.
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"A complete joke, honestly," they added.
TikTok noted in their internal email that the wellbeing of their team is their "top priority . . . [and] leadership 100% supports the use of annual leave to fully recharge and spend time with friends and family."
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