After numerous sex scandals rocked Fox News, parent company 21st Century Fox is installing a “Workplace Professionalism and Inclusion Council” to watch-over the cable news net. Most members of the committee will be independent of Fox, per the publicly traded corporation.
The council will regularly provide written reports to the 21st Century board. Those will be posted publicly to the company’s website.
More specifically, the new committee will “advise Fox News and its senior management in its ongoing efforts to ensure a proper workplace environment for all employees and guests, strengthen reporting practices for wrongdoing, enhance HR training on workplace behavior, and further recruitment and advancement of women and minorities,” per a Monday media release.
“The Workplace Council gives our management team access to a brain trust of experts with deep and diverse experiences in workplace issues,” said Jack Abernethy, co-president of Fox News Channel. “We look forward to benefiting from their collective guidance.”
“We are pleased to have resolved this matter with 21CF in a constructive way that will drive meaningful benefits for shareholders of 21CF and Fox News employees,” said Max Berger, founding partner, Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP. “The establishment of a majority independent council with the participation of senior HR executives from the company is a positive result that reflects a shared commitment from both sides to strengthen the workplace at Fox News.”
Over this past year, 21st Century Fox appointed a new global chief Human Resources officer, Thomas Gaissmaier, and a new head of Human Resources at Fox News, Kevin Lord. Both will be members of the new council, with Gaissmaier serving as chairperson.
All of these changes came about after former Fox News boss Roger Ailes was accused of sexually harassing numerous women, most notably Gretchen Carlson, whom he is pictured with above. Earlier this year, anchor Bill O’Reilly was ousted from the network following similar allegations. Charles Payne, Sean Hannity and others have also been accused of sexual misconduct on the job.
The council’s four independent members are:
Honorable Barbara Jones, former judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, she runs a practice on corporate monitorships, compliance issues, internal investigations and arbitrations and mediations. Judge Jones chaired the Response Systems to Adult Sexual Assault Crimes Panel, created by Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013, aimed at assessing the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of sexual assaults in the military.
Brande Stellings, who leads Catalyst’s consulting services and corporate board services groups, guides organizations to accelerate the advancement of women through the pipeline to leadership.
Virgil Smith, who served as Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Diversity at the Gannett Company, is currently Principal Consultant of the Smith Edwards Group, LLC, and consultant for the Asian American Journalists Association.
Sylvia Ann Hewlett, PhD economist, Kennedy Scholar, Founder and CEO of the Center for Talent Innovation, and member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She has published 12 books and 14 Harvard Business Review articles.