I saw this story on the news this weekend, and was not pleased. I feel compelled to write this open letter as a result:
To Mr. Tim Armstrong:
Wow. I am appalled at the statements you made at your town hall meeting regarding the cuts in benefits to your employees at AOL. Cuts are not, unfortunately, an uncommon occurrence these days, but the comments you gave as your reason? Gross. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that you are probably among the fortunate people who have never gone through the hell of the NICU, because I cannot fathom that someone who has gone through that hell like my husband and I have would make such un-empathetic statements that are borderline violations of privacy.
Who cares how much your precious company had to compensate for benefits for the families who had preemies/critically ill babies in the NICU? THIS IS SOMETHING THAT IS OUT OF ANYONE'S CONTROL. No one sits down in the morning, at, say, 29 weeks pregnant and thinks it's a grand idea to deliver their baby right then or within the next couple of days, nor do they do this to think about how they can drive up insurance costs for everyone else. It is something that happens, something that devastates parents and other family members of the tiny baby fighting for his or her life in an environment they should not be in yet. To imply that the families who had children in the NICU is a big reason why you're making cuts, and to point the finger at them indirectly, is disgusting!
Would you make the same implications over one of your employees who is dealing with a cancer diagnosis, either for themselves or for a family member that is a dependent on their policy? How about the family that is dealing with a loved one who has kidney failure and needs regular dialysis while they're waiting for a transplant? The list of conditions that can happen to ANYONE goes on, and so many of them cost millions of dollars to treat. Yet you think it's totally cool to act like the tool that you've proved you are by making the comments you did against something that is out of people's control!
What disturbs me even more are the other "higher ups" in big corporations who think just like you, yet haven't spoken out. Maybe they'll learn a lesson from your mistake. I hope everyone who thinks like you will learn from you, and will gain at least a little bit of empathy for those who are struggling day in and day out, and who are living with the unknown, not knowing if their next breath will be their last.
I'm grateful that my husband's place of employment hasn't indirectly pointed a finger at us for "driving up" healthcare costs for other employees. God knows we've had plenty of bills with staggering numbers, but I'm grateful that we have these benefits and aren't made to feel like we're a major problem that should be made an "example" of!
Really, you should be ashamed of yourself! Yes, you apologized, but only after the media firestorm happened. I do hope that you were sincere, and that you will learn a valuable lesson, and dare I say grow a pair, man up, and be a little kinder to other humans. A little empathy can go a long, long way.