Women’s groups urge NBC to commit to workplace culture changes | Major Businesses | Business
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Ahead of Comcast’s annual general meeting of shareholders on 11 June, women’s groups UltraViolet and NOW-NY have published an open letter to Comcast CEO and chairman Brian Roberts asking the media giant to take a deeper look into workplace culture and management at NBC.

lauer 9 june 2018The letter comes after an investigation at NBC that cleared NBC executives of wrongdoing in the case of the Matt Lauer sexual harassment scandal.

An investigation in May by NBCUniversal’s legal team found that NBC News management didn’t know of Lauer’s workplace conduct, and thus were therefore exonerated.

Lauer was fired from his star post at the Today show late last year, following revelations of inappropriate – many say disturbing – sexual behaviour. This allegedly included making lewd sexual conversation with female colleagues; giving a coworker a sex toy with an explicit note; asking female producers about their sex lives; and having a button installed on his desk that allowed him to lock the door so he could harass women without fear of interruption.

And yet, no one apparently complained to upper management.

“We found no evidence indicating that any NBC News or ‘Today’ show leadership, News H.R. or others in positions of authority in the News Division received any complaints about Lauer’s workplace behaviour prior to Nov. 27, 2017,” the report concluded.

The network leaders were absolved, but many questioned whether the findings were self-serving, given that there was no independent inquiry, unlike how sex scandals unfolded at FOX and NPR; the investigation was overseen by Kim Harris, the general counsel of NBCUniversal. Former Today show co-anchor Ann Curry and others have raised concerns about a lack of transparency.

In the letter, UltraViolet argues that there is clearly something wrong with a work environment reluctant to hold high-status employees accountable, and asks Comcast and NBC to “proactively develop a safe, equitable work culture and make it easier for employees to report, and hold management accountable to address and prevent harassment.”

Among the specific recommendations are: Do not take zero formal complaints at face value; mandate effective anti-harassment trainings; eliminate overly broad non-disclosure agreements in employment contracts; eliminate mandatory arbitration clauses that prevent people from pursuing individual or collective claims in court; conduct anonymous climate surveys; and develop multiple trusted avenues for employees to report.

Last month, UltraViolet launched a series of online ads targeting NBC employees, with a message reading, “Have You Been Sexually Harassed at NBC?”

The ads directed users to a website where they can submit their accounts of sexual harassment at NBC. UltraViolet’s story submission page also connects NBC employees to legal services through the TIME'S UP Legal Defense Fund.