As CBS continues to dig its way out of the #MeToo scandal involving former Chairman and CEO Les Moonves, the company is being lobbed another grenade. This time, the company is being accused of not promoting black women to leadership roles.
In an open letter published in Variety, former CBS Director of Entertainment Diversity and Inclusion Whitney Davis wrote about her experience at the network and she doesn’t hold back any punches.
“The company has a white problem across the board. Did you know that there’s not one black creative executive working at CBS Television Network or CBS Television Studios?” she wrote. "We should all be outraged that CBS has opted to ignore its rampant discrimination issues and lack of inclusion."
In an interview with Yahoo Finance’s On The Move, Davis said she’s calling for radical change.
“I don't believe that this system was built with minorities and people of color in mind. And so when you look at the positions of power, when you look at the boards that are at the top of the company, when you look at oftentimes the C-suite, it truly does not reflect what they're hoping to broadcast on the air.”
Davis said her time at CBS was filled with highs and lows but ultimately she felt the company was only paying lip service to creating a culture of diversity and inclusion and that there was a lot of talk about the lack of diversity in Hollywood, but no action to reflect that in CBS’s internal staffing.
“It was almost as if we were putting out a fire within the industry when our own house was burning down,” Davis said. “And I really feel like internally the work that we were doing was not met with the same amount of passion and intention that they were, you know, putting forth in the public.”
“When we would push to get these same people hired internally, it was — you know, especially on the on-air talent, it was, you know, they're not good enough. They're too green. They're not right for us. And after years of that, I started to question, is it that they're not white enough?”
Davis continued to call CBS out on social media challenging talent agents to boycott the network and encouraging them not to pitch the broadcaster until changes are made. She even invoked Hollywood all-star Oprah Winfrey, in a Twitter post after Winfrey left 60 Minutes.
CBS has to change
Davis said she intends to shake things up and forecasts a bleak future for CBS if it doesn’t change.
“I believe that if the company does not continue to move in the right direction... they will continue to hemorrhage audiences,” Davis said. “They'll continue to hemorrhage advertising dollars, and that should upset the shareholders. And at the end of the day, the board is there to carry out the interests of the shareholders.”
Responding to Davis’ Variety letter, CBS issued a statement:
”During her time at CBS, Whitney was a valued team member of the News and Entertainment divisions... While we disagree with some statements in Whitney’s story, we take all employee concerns seriously and remain committed to improving the workplace experience for everyone.”
Davis said she remains committed to speaking out until she see changes in the industry and that leaving a legacy was part of her motivation.
“I really had to look no further than my children and the kids that would be oftentimes looking to start their careers in the industry to say that, you know, this isn't right,” Davis said.
Yvette is a producer for Yahoo Finance’s On The Move.