Ellen DeGeneres Apologizes to Staff Over Workplace Culture, ‘Staffing Changes’ Promised

“Anyone who knows me knows it’s the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show,” DeGeneres says in an internal letter

Last Updated: July 30, 2020 @ 3:47 PM

Ellen DeGeneres apologized to her staff Thursday following recent accusations that the producers of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” had fostered a toxic work environment.

WarnerMedia also issued a statement on Thursday promising “several staffing changes, along with appropriate measures to address the issues that have been raised.” Reps for Warner Bros. declined to provide specific details on the nature and extent of the personnel changes.

In a letter to employees obtained by TheWrap, DeGeneres vowed to “correct the issues” raised in a recent BuzzFeed report by former “Ellen” employees and one current staffer detailing instances of what they called “microaggressions” by show producers toward an employee of color and occasions where individuals were fired for taking time off to attend funerals or due to medical problems.

“On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that The Ellen DeGeneres Show would be a place of happiness — no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect. Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I am sorry,” DeGeneres said in the letter. “Anyone who knows me knows it’s the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show.”

Earlier this week, executives from Telepictures, which produces the show, and distributor Warner Bros. TV announced that WarnerMedia’s employee relations group and a third-party firm would conduct the investigation into the accusations.

“Though not all of the allegations were corroborated, we are disappointed that the primary findings of the investigation indicated some deficiencies related to the show’s day-to-day management,” Warner Bros. said in a statement Thursday. “Warner Bros. and Ellen DeGeneres are all committed to ensuring a workplace based on respect and inclusion. We are confident this course of action will lead us to the right way forward for the show.”

Warner Bros. provided the following statement Thursday:

“Warner Bros. and Ellen DeGeneres take the recent allegations around the show’s workplace culture very seriously. We hoped to determine the validity and extent of publicly reported allegations and to understand the full breadth of the show’s day-to-day culture. As a result, WarnerMedia interviewed dozens of current and former employees about the environment at The Ellen DeGeneres Show. It was important to both Warner Bros. and Ellen that as many people as possible attached to the program could be heard. The Ellen DeGeneres Show is, and has always strived to be, a place that brings positivity to the world. And though not all of the allegations were corroborated, we are disappointed that the primary findings of the investigation indicated some deficiencies related to the show’s day-to-day management. We have identified several staffing changes, along with appropriate measures to address the issues that have been raised, and are taking the first steps to implement them. Warner Bros. and Ellen DeGeneres are all committed to ensuring a workplace based on respect and inclusion. We are confident this course of action will lead us to the right way forward for the show.”

Read DeGeneres’ full letter below:

Hey everybody – it’s Ellen. On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that The Ellen DeGeneres Show would be a place of happiness – no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect. Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I am sorry. Anyone who knows me knows it’s the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show.

I could not have the success I’ve had without all of your contributions. My name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that. Alongside Warner Bros, we immediately began an internal investigation and we are taking steps, together, to correct the issues. As we’ve grown exponentially, I’ve not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew I’d want them done. Clearly some didn’t. That will now change and I’m committed to ensuring this does not happen again.

I’m also learning that people who work with me and for me are speaking on my behalf and misrepresenting who I am and that has to stop. As someone who was judged and nearly lost everything for just being who I am, I truly understand and have deep compassion for those being looked at differently, or treated unfairly, not equal, or – worse – disregarded. To think that any one of you felt that way is awful to me.

It’s been way too long, but we’re finally having conversations about fairness and justice. We all have to be more mindful about the way our words and actions affect others, and I’m glad the issues at our show were brought to my attention. I promise to do my part in continuing to push myself and everyone around me to learn and grow. It’s important to me and to Warner Bros. that everyone who has something to say can speak up and feels safe doing so.

I am so proud of the work we do and the fun and joy we all help put out in the world. I want everyone at home to love our show and I want everyone who makes it to love working on it. Again, I’m so sorry to anyone who didn’t have that experience. If not for COVID, I’d have done this in person, and I can’t wait to be back on our stage and see you all then.

Stay safe and healthy.

Love,

Ellen

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