Netflix Updates Its Famous Culture Document with Focus on Inclusion and Respect

Netflix Updates Its Famous Culture Document with Focus on Inclusion and Respect

Netflix’s manifesto on its organizational culture, created by the company’s former chief talent officer Patty McCord and first published as a slide presentation in 2009, has been viewed over 16 million times, while Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg once praised it as “the most important document ever to come out of the Valley.” On Wednesday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced that the company had revised and updated the document “seeking to clarify the many points on which people have had questions.”

The new version of Netflix’s manifesto is given a new format—10 pages of prose as opposed to a 120-slide deck—and according to Hastings, “reflects the emphasis we put on global thinking and inclusiveness, and maintains our joy of working with stunning colleagues.” The new document, which is worth taking the time to read in full, contains many of the same principles that made the original deck so influential: Netflix’s commitment to employee excellence as expressed through behaviors like judgment, curiosity, courage, passion, and innovation.

One key change is the addition of “inclusion” to Netflix’s list of core values, exemplified by employees who “collaborate effectively with people of diverse backgrounds and cultures,” “nurture and embrace differing perspectives to make better decisions,” and “recognize we all have biases, and work to grow past them.” Another change is that the value of “honesty” is now described as “integrity” instead and stresses the need for respect, in addition to candor and directness: Employees are now explicitly directed to “treat people with respect independent of their status or disagreement with you.” Additionally, the new document spells out Netflix’s approach to parental leave: Much like its unlimited, untracked vacation policy, new parents are “encouraged to take whatever time they feel is right in the first year.”

Variety’s senior Silicon Valley correspondent Janko Roettgers parses the new blueprint and pulls out some key takeaways of his own:

Netflix is not a Silicon Valley playground

Netflix’s office may be close to other tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo as well as countless other start-ups, but the company couldn’t be more different in the way it’s thinking about perks and campus culture. There are no giant slides at Netflix’s office, no spontaneous ultimate frisbee tournaments and no Burning Man tributes. …

Netflix doesn’t want any bros

At a time when sexism and other ruthless behavior in the tech industry is in the headlines, Netflix is repeating its long-standing commitment to not hire jerks: “On a dream team, there are no ‘brilliant jerks.’ The cost to teamwork is just too high. Our view is that brilliant people are also capable of decent human interactions, and we insist upon that.”

The company’s corporate culture principles also received a significant update to include a commitment to diversity and inclusion, asking current and potential employees to be “curious about how our different backgrounds affect us at work, rather than pretending they don’t affect us.” “You recognize we all have biases, and work to grow past them,” the document continues. “You intervene if someone else is being marginalized.”

Some of these insights are longstanding features of Netflix’s cultural ethos—for instance, McCord herself has made the point that cool perks do not a culture make—but the aversion to brilliant jerks and the emphasis on respect for colleagues with different perspectives reflects the process of self-discovery that many Silicon Valley tech companies have gone through over the past few years as they have confronted widespread problems like monochrome workforces, unwelcoming environments for women, overly competitive values, and an excessive focus on star power.