Talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres has come under fire as allegations have been made by former and current employees regarding the workplace culture at her show. Ellen, famous for her positivity and comedic interviews and skits, has been accused of ignoring knowledge of racism, sexism, and toxicity directed at those who work for her. These allegations are particularly shocking due to Ellen’s practically immaculate reputation and the challenging journey she took to her success as a gay woman in Hollywood. After issuing an apology the entirety of her staff, acknowledging the allegations while maintaining that she was not aware of the severity or depth of such claims, she has fired three of her executive producers, Kevin Leman, Ed Glavin, and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman. The carefully crafted letter and actions following, place the blame on those working for her in positions of power.
We, at First Response, acknowledge the challenges that those in leadership face as they navigate both every day and big picture obstacles. Our goal is to work collaboratively with you to ensure that your team is in good hands through our prevention programs. By setting clear standards and protections for employees, the risk of the above mentioned toxic workplace greatly lessens. One of our programs, the Defensible Harassment Program, works to alleviate some of the confusion around how to build a safe environment through conduct training and customized documentation practices to ensure employees feel safe. We know how critical it is to build and maintain the best workplace culture for your organization.
It is not rare for a workplace environment to evolve into something different than its founder’s original intentions and vision. With success and subsequently necessary delegation comes the reconstruction of workplace norms and standards that may deviate from the founder, in this case, Ellen’s vision. While it’s difficult to believe that she had no knowledge of the harmful environment that had sprung up as she rose to astronomical levels of success, it is more than possible that she was unaware of the level of problematic, racist, and sexist occurrences. The presence of a solid HR structure that could monitor and prevent such behaviors would have disrupted much of the toxicity.