EXCLUSIVE: Just hours after longtime CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves exited the company in September over sexual misconduct allegations, the company’s interim CEO Joe Ianniello assured staffers in an internal memo that CBS “has a steadfast commitment to diversity, inclusion and a safe and positive working environment.”
He and the leadership of the company’s TV operations have reiterated that commitment over the past eight months, and today CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl and CBS TV Studios President David Stapf unveiled the first steps of CBS’ plan to greatly expand the company’s human resources operations with the goal of making access to HR representatives easier and less intimidating.
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In an internal memo obtained by Deadline, Kahl and Stapf announced “a very expanded and visible Human Resources structure supporting all CBS Studios’ productions.”
“A big part of this will be the introduction of ‘human resources production partners’ assigned to all shows,” the duo wrote. “These production partners will provide a recognizable name and face for everyone on set, regardless of title, to confidentially discuss any potential workplace situation.”
The new procedures, which are still being finalized, will also include “an independent, third party reporting system for all employees – both in CBS offices and on sets” with “professionals outside of CBS” receiving complaints, “providing another confidential reporting option for our production employee base.”
The soon-to-be-implemented measures also include “new in-person, anti-harassment training will be introduced for all CBS Studios’ productions, as well as customized training as necessary.”
In addition to Moonves’ high-profile ouster, there have been several reported cases of harassment on CBS/CBS TV Series series, including one involving NCIS: New Orleans’ showrunner Brad Kern, who was fired after a myriad of complaints and multiple HR investigations, and another centered on Bull star Michael Weatherly, which led to a $9.5 million settlement for actress Eliza Dushku. Additionally, there have been other executive departures, most recently CBS’ long-time head of casting Peter Golden, who oversaw casting for the network and CBS TV Studios. He exited last week following HR complaints.
Here is Kahl and Stapf’s email:
Good morning everyone!
For several months, Joe and his team have been keeping us informed about CBS’ commitment to cultural transformation and dedicating more resources to important areas that ensure CBS is a safe, fair and inclusive place to work.
Today, we are reaching out to share a few important, new developments the Company has in the works that speak directly to our production process. The details for these programs are still being finalized and will be formally announced before our shows start production this summer. We wanted you to hear about it from us first.
The main headline is that we will have a very expanded and visible Human Resources structure supporting all CBS Studios’ productions. A big part of this will be the introduction of “human resources production partners” assigned to all shows. These will be highly trained HR executives who will be on our sets on a regular basis to ensure safety and build trust with the cast, producers and staff. These production partners will provide a recognizable name and face for everyone on set, regardless of title, to confidentially discuss any potential workplace situation.
At the same time, an independent, third party reporting system for all employees – both in CBS offices and on sets – is being put into place. Professionals outside of CBS will receive these calls and emails, providing another confidential reporting option for our production employee base.
In addition, with the support of Laurie Rosenfield and the HR specialists, we will expand our training and development programs. New in-person, anti-harassment training will be introduced for all CBS Studios’ productions, as well as customized training as necessary.
We also wanted to remind everyone that CBS recently announced a new Chief Business Ethics and Compliance Officer, Hazel Mayers, who is centralizing the Employees Relations function and reporting procedures. We will have more information from Hazel about this in the days ahead.
A safe and positive workplace forms the best possible creative culture and lets people do their best work. Thank you all for sharing our commitment to this process. We look forward to discussing more details about these programs with you, as well as with our producers, in the weeks ahead.
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