PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan has allegedly upset countless employees over an email he sent that reportedly asked staff to ‘respect differences of opinion’ when it comes to discussing abortion rights. According to Bloomberg, the request was delivered in an email that went on to flippantly describe the birthdays of Ryan’s two cats in five detailed paragraphs.
It’s reportedly left a sour taste in the mouths of employees, particularly given the debate ‘split’ is between whether people should have their own bodily autonomy and the ability to decide whether they actually want to have kids, or whether they should be forced to give birth, despite any mitigating circumstances or emotions.
Abortion rights are essential for health care. Some people simply don’t want to get pregnant. Others can’t get pregnant without the risk of negatively impacting their health. But no matter the reason why someone wants an abortion, it is their right to seek it out.
Currently this right is entrenched in United States law via the historic Roe v Wade decision – but a recent draft document leaked from the US courts has outlined future plans to overturn this, thus denying people their currently established rights.
Bloomberg states the email from Ryan explained that PlayStation was ‘multi-faceted and diverse, holding many different points of view … we owe it to each other and to PlayStation’s millions of users to respect differences of opinion among everyone in our external and external communities.’
‘Respect does not equal agreement. But it is fundamental to who we are as a company and as a valued global brand.’
Respect only extends so far – and it should not cover instances where people’s lives and human rights are at risk – which is likely why Ryan’s comments have reportedly stoked the fires of employees. Internal conversations seen by Bloomberg indicate many staff are expressing their dissatisfaction with the position, and with the tone of the email. Some believe their rights are being ‘disrespected’, while others claimed the email ‘trivialised’ the topic of abortion rights.
While there’s nothing wrong with sharing information about your pets at work, it perhaps shouldn’t be tacked onto such a serious topic, or a directive to ignore the horror implications of ‘pro-life’ sentiment.
It’s fair to say Ryan’s choice of words and timing appear extremely insensitive, particularly given the matters at stake. While PlayStation has a number of global shareholders to please – and operates in market that include countries where women and marginalised genders have fewer entrenched rights – taking such a neutral stance can still cause extreme harm.