'Fear & intimidation' | Ellen DeGeneres Show hit by 'toxic workplace' claims

Ellen DeGeneres Show hit by 'toxic workplace' claims

A strong and positive company culture can make a huge difference to businesses wanting to attract, engage and retain top talent.

It can also influence a business’ commercial success too, which makes it a key element of any HR strategy.

Despite the importance of company culture from both an employee and commercial perspective, one current and ten former employees on The Ellen DeGeneres Show – who asked to remain anonymous – have claimed to BuzzFeed news that they experienced fear, racism and intimidation behind the scenes of the show.

According to Digital Spy, some staff members alleged that they had been let go for taking medical leave or bereavement days to attend family funerals.

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Others claimed they were told not to speak to show host Ellen if they saw her around the workplace.

In addition, a Black staff member who had previously worked on the show said that she had experienced racist remarks and ‘microaggressions’.

After speaking up about the alleged discrimination she had experienced, she claimed colleagues distanced themselves from her.

She told BuzzFeed News: "Whenever I brought up an issue to my white male boss, he would bring up some random story about some random Black friend that he had and how they managed to get over stuff.

"He would use his Black friend as some way to say, 'I understand your struggle.' But it was all performative bulls***."

After learning that a recent hire was earning double the money for carrying out the same work, the former employee asked for a pay rise a year into the job. She had ten years’ experience in the TV industry.

It was alleged that her manager said “they’d see what they could do” but months passed, and nothing happened. She later left and never returned after being reprimanded for several things.

The BuzzFeed News article reported that most former employees blamed executive producers and senior staff for the day-to-day culture, yet one former employee said that the show host Ellen “needs to take more responsibility” for the working environment.

“If she wants to have her own show and have her name on the show title, she needs to be more involved to see what's going on…” the former staff member added.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show responds to allegations from staff

In response to the allegations regarding toxic workplace culture, Executive Producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner, said in a joint statement: "Over the course of nearly two decades, 3,000 episodes, and employing over 1,000 staff members, we have strived to create an open, safe, and inclusive work environment.

"We are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience. It's not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us.

"For the record, the day-to-day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us. We take all of this very seriously and we realise, as many in the world are learning, that we need to do better, are committed to do better, and we will do better.”

The cost of a toxic culture at work

While these allegations took place in the US, a plethora of research has shown the vast impact that poor company culture can have on businesses and workforces.

For example, a 2020 report from software provider Breathe suggested that the cost of toxic workplace culture is around £15.7billion year in the UK.

As was reported by UK Tech News, The Culture Economy report, 34% of British employees have actually quit their job due to poor workplace culture.

Signs of a toxic culture

Last year, Phil Foster, Managing Director of price comparison site Love Energy Savings, compiled a list of the early warning signs spotted by disgruntled staff on Reddit, as was reported by the Mirror.

High staff turnover levels, a ‘work hard, play hard’ culture’ and having bad thoughts were among some of the signs to look out for.

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