'Not Your Mother-In-Law:' PR Head Of 'China's Google' Reportedly Loses Her Job After Endorsing Brutal '996' Work Culture

The media relations chief of web search giant Baidu Inc. BIDU, known as China’s Google, has apparently resigned due to the controversial and demanding “996” work culture in the Asian country.

What HappenedQu Jing, the media relations chief at Baidu, stepped down Thursday after sharing videos that appeared to endorse a work culture that demands employees work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week, reported Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter. This work culture is commonly referred to as “996.”

Qu discussed keeping her phone on 24/7 and cautioned her subordinates to adhere to the same practice. In one of the clips posted on Douyin, China's version of TikTok, she says, “I'm not your mother-in-law.”

See Also: I Struggled With Toxic Boss So Much, I Thought I Had No Option But To Quit: But Then These 5 Things I Did Made It Better

Her comments sparked a significant backlash on Chinese social media, reigniting the ongoing debate about the demanding work culture in the tech industry.

The controversy surrounding the “996” work culture has been a long-standing issue in China, particularly after the unexplained deaths of several tech employees. Despite a government crackdown on excessive work, the practice has persisted, especially during economic downturns.

Meanwhile, Qu has now apologized, stating that her views were personal and not reflective of Baidu’s stance. As of Friday, she had removed the videos, and her page only displayed the apology.

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Why It Matters: The resignation of Baidu’s media relations chief highlights the ongoing struggle within the Chinese tech industry to address the well-being of its workforce. 

In the United States, Daniel McKinnon, a former product manager at both Meta Platforms Inc. and Alphabet Inc. highlighted the differences in work-life balance between the two tech giants. He said Meta might appeal more to individuals seeking growth at the expense of stress and pressure, Google could be an excellent option for those prioritizing a healthy work-life balance.

A survey result reported in March 2024, found that many employers consider the Gen Z workforce to be toxic and the “least reliable” among all generations. This suggests that the work culture debate is not only a concern for the current workforce but also the employers.

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Disclaimer: This content was partially produced with the help of Benzinga Neuro and was reviewed and published by Benzinga editors.

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