Whitney Davis writes that as director of entertainment diversity and inclusion at the company, she worked with investigators looking into the widely publicized sexual misconduct allegations against former CEO Les Moonves. When the findings emerged via a sanitized memo leaked to The New York Times, Davis writes that she realized that there would be no real change to the company culture. Davis, who started her career 15 years ago at “CBS Evening News,” left the company in February. She breaks down why in the letter:
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? Of the network’s 36 creative executives—all upper management roles that deal with content development, casting, current production, daytime and alternative programming—there are only three women of color, none Black. There is not one executive of color working in casting at CBS. The one Latinx executive hired in casting last year lasted eight months. He works at Netflix now.
Davis goes on to share anecdotes from her early days at the network alongside more recent ones, casting a light on a workplace she describes as “fraught with systemic racism, discrimination and sexual harassment.”
From December 2011 through December 2013, I was mentored by execs in casting, drama development, daytime, current programming and marketing. In every meeting I attended in those departments, I was the only Black person and often the only person of color…. A common theme was that talent of color and creatives from marginalized communities weren’t good enough for CBS. I sat in meetings where Peter Golden, the head of network casting and talent, flipped through headshots of minority actors, commenting that they weren’t good enough while suggesting White actors who’d be a better fit. During a stint in drama development, I saw that the overwhelming majority of creators, producers and hired writers on CBS series were White and male. During my drama-development rotation, an executive made an Aunt Jemima joke (if there is such a thing) in front of me and several colleagues.
Davis closes the letter by saying she hopes it will serve as a takeaway for major corporations on the value of investing in people of color and others from marginalized communities.
Read the full letter—and a response from a CBS spokesperson—here.