In the past year, CBS has seen its share of controversy after it was revealed that former CEO Les Moonves was enthralled in a sexual-misconduct investigation where numerous women accused him of explicit behavior. After Moonves stepped down, Whitney Davis, the former head of the network’s entertainment diversity and inclusion division, thought she would use the opportunity to report the personal instances of discrimination she experienced at the company.
On Tuesday, Davis summarized her 12-year career at the network, littered with various instances of CBS work culture which was “fraught with systemic racism, discrimination and sexual harassment.”
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“By sharing my experience, I hoped to shed desperately needed light on the truth that CBS, sadly, doesn’t value a diverse workplace,” she continued.
But to no avail, she was disappointed to find that her whistle blowing made no impact on those who had the power to change it.
Davis worked for the company beginning in 2006, climbing the ranks from the newsroom to the boardroom. Her letter details the many experiences she had over her storied career at CBS where she was devalued, overworked and patronized by her fellow white co-workers and members of management.
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During one portion of the letter, she revealed how one white male co-worker shared that his father sexually fetishized Black women and how one of her colleagues actually used the n-word in her presence. When she reported the incident to higher-ups, she was told to grow a thicker skin.
She did reflect on the impact she was able to make at the network, but realized that her mere presence in the rooms was not evoking much change.
“But it’s just not enough to open doors to diverse, talented candidates. We need to be respected, promoted and compensated on the same level as our white peers,” Davis wrote.
After taking medical leave for what she thought was postpartum stress, Davis realized that she could no longer stomach the mistreatment and decided to take legal action against the network. She was able to negotiate a $50,000 payout from the network after much legal back and forth.
Davis shared that the Moonves investigation did not reach far enough in delving into the wide-ranging issues at the network.
“Last fall’s external investigation failed to address discrimination, gender bias and inappropriate behavior, although we were told it would,” she wrote. “The leaked report emphasized sexual misconduct while failing to address the totality of problems at the corporation. We should all be outraged that CBS has opted to ignore its rampant discrimination issues and lack of inclusion.”
“I am not an angry black woman with an ax to grind. As a mom, I don’t want my black boys to have to work at a company that doesn’t value them for their talent and skills, and I don’t want other young girls and boys to encounter similar roadblocks in corporate America. They deserve a better world. I’m speaking out to encourage other black, Latinx, native, API, disabled or LGBTQ workers to know that we don’t have to tolerate what is intolerable,” Davis wrote.
A statement from the network said that they valued Davis contribution to the company and while they disagree with some of her account they realized the need to “take all employee concerns seriously and remain committed to improving the workplace experience for everyone.”
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