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AOL CEO apologises for “distressed babies” comment

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AOL’s Tim Armstrong still has some work to do if he was planning on running for the title of “CEO of the Year”.

Earlier this week, Armstrong issued an apology after suggesting high healthcare costs – like the birth of two “distressed babies” by employees – was one of the reasons the company had to cut retirement benefits – despite just having reported the highest earnings in a decade.

On February 6, Armstong said the company had to delay contributions to staff’s retirement accounts because of rising healthcare costs, adding: “We had two AOLers that had distressed babies that were born that we paid $1 million each to make sure those babies were OK in general.”

His comments incurred the wrath of employees and the general public, particularly the mother of one of the babies in question.

“The suggestion that her very existence could be called into question and blamed for corporate cost-cutting made me really furious,” Donna Fei, whose husband is an AOL employee, said in an interview with CBS News.

In an email to employees, Armstrong admitted he had “made a mistake”.

“I apologise for my comments,” he said, and has also issued a personal apology to Fei and her family, which she has accepted.

In August last year, Armstrong issued a company-wide apology after publicly firing an employee while in the middle of a conference call attended by thousands of Patch (an AOL-owned company) staff members.

Hong Kong HR Masterclass Series: 27th March Strengthening the mental resilience and wellbeing of employees -
improving employee engagement, talent retention and organisational productivity.
Register now here

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