It’s been a difficult couple of weeks for NBC News, and its leadership has decided to take significant steps to conduct what it’s calling a “culture assessment.”
NBC News chairman Andy Lack, in a memo to the staff, included below, also said that a review of the sexual harassment charges that led to the firing of Matt Lauer would result in interviews with at least 40 employees. The review, he wrote, is intended “to determine why this was able to happen, why it wasn’t reported sooner, and what we can do to make employees feel more empowered to report unacceptable behavior.”
Lack said the culture assessment process would bring together peer groups of up to 10 employees to discuss what might prevent employees from coming forward with their concerns, and how NBC Newsers feel about their work environment.
NBC has hired an outside firm to conduct “in-person, interactive training on workplace behavior and harassment prevention,” wrote Lack.
TVNewser obtained the entire internal memo Lack sent to staff Friday afternoon:
In the aftermath of Matt Lauer’s reprehensible conduct and his resulting dismissal, NBCU has – as you know – begun a review to determine why this was able to happen, why it wasn’t reported sooner, and what we can do to make employees feel more empowered to report unacceptable behavior.
Now, a week into this process, here’s an update.
The review team has begun interviews with employees. The initial list is long. It includes roughly forty people so far, and that number will expand as more is learned through the process. These interviews will continue for several more weeks.
As part of the review we are also going to undertake what’s called a “culture assessment” of the News Division. We are adapting this process from one that has been done in other parts of the company and has reportedly worked well. Groups of roughly 8-10 employees will gather, with a NBCU facilitator, for focus group meetings to solicit anonymous feedback on how you feel about your work environment, whether you are comfortable raising concerns and know all the ways available to do so, and what might prevent employees from coming forward. The assessment will also look at the questions, did the culture here change over time, and if so how? A diverse cross-section of employees at various levels of the News organization will be selected to participate, but each session will consist only of employees at similar levels of seniority – so it can be a discussion among peers.
The culture assessment is distinct and separate from the nearly sixty team meetings we’ve held over the past week to explain what’s happening and answer your questions – those will continue as well.
Lastly, we’re taking immediate steps to cut this problem off at its roots. We’ve engaged an outside firm with deep expertise to conduct in-person, interactive training on workplace behavior and harassment prevention. This will be mandatory for all News Division employees, and will be in addition to – not instead of – the current online training.
I’m grateful as ever to all of you for your professionalism and focus during difficult days. No doubt there is more hard work to be done, but we will do it together.