HR Strange But True!
September 22, 2011

When Carol Bartz was fired from her position as CEO of Yahoo, she didn’t quietly make an exit. She lived up to her persona and made her departure public via an e-mail blast to employees.

Following a phone call from Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock informing her she was fired, Bartz sent an e-mail message to all employees saying:

“I am very sad to tell you that I’ve just been fired over the phone by Yahoo’s chairman of the board… It has been my pleasure to work with all of you and I wish you only the best going forward.”

Her termination created discussion not only regarding phone firings but also the use of profanity in the workplace, which has been put under the spotlight, especially in regards to women.

Reports have surfaced since the good-bye e-mail that Bartz, who is known for her direct dialogue, called the board members who fired her a bunch of “doofuses” who “f----- me over.”

This comes as no surprise to those who are familiar with Bartz, who has always been outspoken and known for swearing. In a CNN article, Deborah Tennen, a linguistics professor at Georgetown University, spoke about the challenge women face in the workplace when it comes to language:

"If women talk in ways expected of them or project a feminine demeanor, it's seen as weak. But if they talk in ways associated with men or bosses, then they're seen as too aggressive," she said. "Whatever they do violates one or the other expectation, either you're not talking as you should as a woman or as boss."

However, profanity can be an issue regardless of gender. In a previous HRSBT, we reported on a Wall Street giant that is cracking down on swearing. To see which firm is trying to “keep it clean,” read Prohibiting Profanity: A New Policy on Wall Street?


Has profanity ever been an issue in your organization? Tell us about your own strange workplace story.

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