Mark Lazarus Vows NBCUniversal Will ‘Take a More Active Role’ in Workplace Culture on Shows Produced by Outside Studios

NBC and “America’s Got Talent” producers recently concluded a six-month investigation into accusations of racial bias by former judge Gabrielle Union

Last Updated: July 7, 2020 @ 2:31 PM

NBCUniversal will be “taking a more active role” in ensuring a positive workplace culture on shows produced by outside studios, TV and streaming boss Mark Lazarus said in a memo to staff on Tuesday.

“Employees on shows produced by NBCUniversal work under the protection of respectful workplace policies and procedures designed to prevent discrimination and harassment … But with many of our series produced by outside entities, we have come to realize that we need to do more,” he wrote.

Among the new efforts he outlined are new policies and training materials, “additional channels” for employees to anonymously report concerns, as well as an expansion of human resources teams specifically focused on production.

“Promoting a positive culture is an ongoing effort, and with this commitment, we are confident that we will be able to promote a positive and respectful work environment across all productions,” Lazarus wrote, encouraging staffers to contact human resources reps for more information.

The memo comes at a time when the topic of racial injustice and insensitivity has come to the forefront of the cultural conversation following the death of George Floyd. NBCUniversal and other entertainment companies have in recent weeks moved to take action on these issues and address mistakes of the past, including removing episodes from streaming services because of their content.

The broadcast network NBC also recently concluded a six-month investigation into accusations of racial bias and discrimination on “America’s Got Talent,” which is produced for the network by Fremantle and Simon Cowell’s Syco. The investigation, launched after complaints by former judge Gabrielle Union, wrapped back in May and found no evidence of “insensitive or derogatory remarks about Ms. Union’s appearance, and that neither race nor gender was a contributing factor in the advancement or elimination of contestants at any time.”

Read the full memo from Lazarus below.

I wanted to share the good news that we are gearing up to go back into production on many of our shows across our linear and streaming platforms. As we return, we are taking this opportunity to look holistically at a healthy workplace environment, not only as it relates to safety measures in response to COVID-19, but with regard to culture as well.

Employees on shows produced by NBCUniversal work under the protection of respectful workplace policies and procedures designed to prevent discrimination and harassment – including specially tailored training for the TV production environment and various reporting mechanisms. But with many of our series produced by outside entities, we have come to realize that we need to do more. When a show airs on our networks, even if we do not produce it, we need to take a more active role in ensuring that the experience on set accurately reflects our company’s values.

To support this effort, we have started to provide our third-party production partners with a variety of additional resources that reflect those provided to our in-house productions, including: respectful workplace policies, training materials tailored to the various types of production, and additional channels through which workers can report workplace concerns, including Comcast NBCUniversal Listens, which allows for anonymous reporting.

We will also expand our production-focused HR and corporate-level Fair Employment Practices teams, who will serve as resources for these shows as needed. In addition, we will provide our network employees who work closely with these third-party productions with specialized training to help them identify and escalate workplace issues they observe or experience themselves.

Promoting a positive culture is an ongoing effort, and with this commitment, we are confident that we will be able to promote a positive and respectful work environment across all productions. For more information or if you have any questions please reach out to your HR manager.

Mark Lazarus
Chairman, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming

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