Whitney Davis has spent the bulk of her career at CBS, starting fresh out of college with an entry-level role with the "CBS Evening News" weekend edition. But after fifteen years at the network, she’s called it quits, and very publicly.
“CBS has a white problem,” she says.
This is the key takeaway from her barn-burner of an exit interview, just published in Variety.
The former executive says she’d become convinced that the investigation into the sexual-misconduct allegations against then-CEO Leslie Moonves is not going to trigger necessary changes in how CBS operates.
She’d cooperated with investigators in good faith, she says. "In that heart-wrenching two-hour interview, I talked about a workplace fraught with systemic racism, discrimination, and sexual harassment." When the final memo, missing vital testimony, was leaked to the media, she felt betrayed. "By sharing my experience, I hoped to shed desperately needed light on the truth that CBS, sadly, doesn't value a diverse workplace."
Davis describes an environment of casual racism, discrimination, gender bias, and harassment, and wrestles out loud with her inability to advocate for herself over the years.
Some of her stories are textbook micro-aggressions, which she found demeaning.
"There were two black women working in production on the broadcast -- myself and another. We both held the lowest-ranking positions on staff. Not uncommon in most predominantly white institutions, most of our white colleagues had trouble keeping our names straight. As a joke, they began to call us We-Dra -- short for Whitney and Deidra."
While she thrived in some assignments, she was passed over for one important job which went to a less qualified white man.
Ultimately, she hit a dead end when she rotated into the entertainment division, where she was unable to make headway diversifying the slate of talent on the network as the company's director of entertainment diversity and inclusion. "I managed CBS on Tour, the Writers Mentoring Program and the Directing Initiative, and helped to produce the annual CBS Diversity Sketch Comedy Showcase," she writes. “The showcase is considered the best program of its kind in Hollywood, and has helped launch the careers of stars such as Kate McKinnon, Tiffany Haddish and Hasan Minhaj -- though not on CBS."
Kameka M. Dempsey, a consultant and former vice president in global talent management for BlackRock, says Davis's words have a familiar ring. "The environment that Ms. Davis describes is similar to environments I have seen in various industries, not just entertainment/news," she wrote on LinkedIn. "The reality is that this article is a classic example of inclusion being the hard work that is not being done in most organizations."
You can't hire your way out of a culture plagued by micro-inequities, discrimination, and bias, she says.
"Many leaders are happy to support a variety of diversity programs and recruiting endeavors, but it is inclusion that shifts behavior and organizational culture once people arrive,” Dempsey writes. “Inclusion is also the hard work that most shy away from because it challenges norms, many of which are embedded in organizational culture for decades."
It’s exactly as hard as it sounds.
"Part of the problem is that there is a great deal of confusion about what inclusion is," Dnika J. Travis, Vice President, Women of Color Research & Center Leader for Catalyst tells RaceAhead. She was one of the three researchers who contributed to an extensive report called "The Day-to-Day Experiences of Workplace Inclusion and Exclusion." Culture change requires commitment from the very top and a plan to make sure leaders at every level are prepared to handle the human stuff, like creating an environment of psychological safety. "It’s one of the responsibilities of creating a diverse workforce."
The researchers found that the cost of feeling excluded was cumulative, and ultimately, very painful.
"Most people can easily recall the stories about feeling dismissed at work, and they build up over time," said Travis. The problem is that experiences of inclusion and exclusion often happen many times during the course of a workday. For women and people of color, that sense of feeling emotionally whipsawed becomes exhausting. "Bottom line, when inclusion works, you don't see it. But when you feel excluded, it's all you feel."
And that’s partly why that despite some important achievements, it’s all Whitney Davis seems to feel now.
“I never went to HR to report the trauma and bias I experienced because I didn't trust the process,” says Davis. “There was always the voice in my head of the powerful news executive telling me to ‘have thicker skin.’ I honestly thought if I just stuck it out, it would get better. Things would change if I just worked harder. They never did.”
[bs-title]California is set to ban discrimination based on hair styles[/bs-title][bs-content]New legislation that would prevent schools and workplaces from discriminating against braids, twists, and natural hairstyles has passed the California State Senate. It's now headed to the State Assembly. The C.R.O.W.N. Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) passed in a unanimous vote. "Workplace dress code and grooming policies that prohibit natural hair, including afros, braids, twists, and locks, have a disparate impact on Black individuals as these policies are more likely to deter Black applicants and burden or punish Black employees than any other group," it said. The bill was introduced by Los Angeles Democrat Sen. Holly J. Mitchell."I believe that any law policy or practice that sanctions a job description that immediately excludes me from a profession -- not because of my capacity or my capabilities or my experience but because of my hairstyle choice -- is long overdue for reform," she says.[/bs-content][bs-link link="https://cnn.it/2DuHmel" source="CNN"]
[bs-title]Faking positive emotions at work leads to heavier drinking[/bs-title][bs-content]This study focuses on service workers, from baristas to customer care representatives, but it doesn't take much to imagine how the pressure to appear positive in the face of negativity (like bias or exclusion) could take a similar toll. This study examines the correlation between alcohol consumption and the types of work that demand "extreme emotional labor," which is defined as jobs where people are expected to smile and be accommodating even under the most stressful situations. "I was curious if controlling emotions all day long was linked to less self-control over this after-work behavior," says organizational psychologist Alicia Grandey. It is. Most at risk are people in "low autonomy" jobs, like waiting tables or any service jobs requiring a script. Good managers will want to read and share.[/bs-content][bs-link link="http://bit.ly/2W2mBO8" source="Quartz"]
[bs-title]The armed militia at the U.S. border are threatening to stay[/bs-title][bs-content]The United Constitutional Patriots continue to claim that they are there to assist Border Control agents, but are now being watched by the FBI, cut off from financial support and under increasing pressure from worried locals. Their leader, a multiple felon named Larry Hopkins has been arrested on weapons charges. "It's my God-given right to be here," says one man identified only as "Viper." The small encampment is in Sunland Park, New Mexico, want them gone by Friday. Residents do too. "These outsiders talk about an invasion when they are the ones invading our peace and quiet," says one man. Sunderland Park has a population of 15,600 and is more than 90 percent Latinx.[/bs-content][bs-link link="https://nyti.ms/2ITxNt0" source="New York Times"]
[bs-title]A superhero film with more creating and less Hulk-smashing[/bs-title][bs-content]A different kind of film is in limited-release ahead of "Avengers: Endgame," and hoping to make a dent in the superhero market. Director Julie Hart's "Fast Color" is the story of three black women with unique and mercurial powers, who attempt to reconcile and heal in a dystopian Western world that hasn't seen rain for years. "Most superhero movies are about men destroying things to save them," said Hart. "When [we] decided we wanted to tell a movie about women with superpowers, we decided that their powers absolutely could not be destructive, but that their powers should be creative." Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays the central character, in search of her mother, Lorraine Toussaint, and her ten-year-old daughter played by Saniyya Sidney.[/bs-content][bs-link link="https://lat.ms/2Dwk5IN" source="Los Angeles Times"]
[bs-title]Catching up with Dr. David Dao[/bs-title][bs-content]Dr. David Dao was badly injured when he was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight in April 2017. Now, after two years, he's speaking publicly about the incident. "I just cried," he says, when he first saw the video. His injuries were severe, including a concussion, lacerations, and lost teeth. It took him months to learn to walk again and had briefly been on suicide watch. Dao said he'd made a promise to God that he would devote his time to charity work if he recovered, and he's made good: He's helped Texas residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and traveled to Vietnam and Cambodia to help install solar power in villages. He's recognized all over the world, he says and believes the changes United made in their policies will be worth it. "Everything happens with a reason," he said.[/bs-content][bs-link link="https://abcn.ws/2WZR9Ar" source="ABC News"]
[bs-title]Pixar launches a new animation short series to support more diversity in animation[/bs-title][bs-content]Between 2010 and 2017, only one major animation release -- across Disney, Dreamworks, Universal, Warner Bros., and Fox -- has been directed solely by women, a fact that Pixar hopes to reverse by giving talented directors a chance to show their work in shorter form. Enter SparkShorts, a series of shorter animated films helmed by directors from underrepresented populations, portfolio-boosting work without the long lead times and huge budgets. Each SparkShort takes just six months to produce, compared to four to six years for a major animated feature. The first three SparkShorts to be released -- Purl, Kitbull and Smash and Grab -- were released on YouTube. The next three films will be released this fall on Disney+, the company's new streaming service. Up next the story of a non-verbal autistic girl and Pixar's first animated short with Pinoy characters, Filipino American Bobby Rubio's story about a father whose son has the ability to float in the air.[/bs-content][bs-link link="https://n.pr/2GrQAtI" source="NPR"]
[bs-title]Handling the diversity question in a job interview[/bs-title][bs-content]The Chronicle of Higher Education has a thorough take on how hiring teams should ask "the diversity question" when vetting prospective department chairs or deans, and on the flip side, how candidates should avoid sounding trite. One tip: It matters who asks the question. "A minority candidate watching the lone minority on the committee ask the diversity question sends a signal that, if hired, this applicant will be burdened, too, with dozens of future tasks on committees -- not because of any subject-matter expertise, but because of his or her race/ethnicity." The advice is fully applicable to corporate hiring managers and executive job seekers. Subscription required (sorry.)[/bs-content][bs-link link="http://bit.ly/2k1AQPU" source="The Chronicle of Higher Education"]
[bs-quote link="http://bit.ly/2Dyo0VD" author ="--Les Moonves"]I think when people look back at my career, they'll say I was a loyal guy, I built a great team and I knew how to appreciate talent and what they do..[/bs-quote]
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