CBS has been the nucleus for workplace controversy in recent years. Last fall, former CEO Les Moonves stepped down as chairman after multiple women came forward with allegations of sexual harassment they've endured from him. Around the same time, Bob Kushell, who was the former showrunner for the CBS comedy Fam, was axed over his use of inappropriate language. In December, actress Eliza Dushku published an opinion piece in the Boston Globe, stating that she was fired from the CBS legal drama Bull after alleged sexual harassment by star Michael Weatherly.
Now, Whitney Davis, the former Director of Entertainment Diversity and Inclusion at CBS, is speaking out about the company's toxic workplace culture in an essay for Variety.
"The company has a white problem across the board," Davis said in her Variety piece. She points out that there are no Black creative executives at CBS. Of the network’s 36 creative executives — all upper management roles that deal with content development, casting, current production, daytime, and alternative programming — there are only three women of color, none Black." Davis also reveals there are no executives of color in the casting department at CBS. And this is only scratching the surface.
Davis goes into further detail about CBS' workplace culture, pointing out discrimination, systemic racism and its history of sexual harassment. She points out instances where white colleagues would confuse her with another Black woman in the newsroom during her earlier years at the network, an incident when she was told by a senior executive to grow thicker skin after hearing a white woman use the "N" word, and another incident when a CBS Evening News producer would constantly touch her hair while telling her inappropriate sexual jokes.
Davis goes on to assert her belief that Peter Golden, CBS' head of casting, does not believe minority actors to be on the same level of talent as their white counterparts.
"We need to be respected, promoted and compensated on the same level as our white peers," Davis asserted.
Davis pointed out that after the occurrence of these incidents she hired a workplace discrimination attorney; Davis received an exit package of $50,000.
"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," she said. "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."
Read the rest of Davis' account of her time at CBS in her article for Variety.
Photo: Armstrong Public Relations