Kelly Kahl, president of CBS Entertainment, said over the weekend that “No issues of gender bias or sexual harassment plague CBS’s corporate culture,” reports The Washington Post.
Kahl is quoted in the report saying of allegations in The New Yorker about CBS CEO Leslie Moonves: “We’re not saying we’re perfect. No large company is. There’s always room for improvement. But I’m confident the culture of the division is very safe, very collaborative and very welcoming.”
Kahl adds: “Many female colleagues have come to me who’ve been saddened by what they read about our company. But they said that it does not represent their experience at CBS.”
The Post adds: “He said no woman has come to him since the scandal broke to say otherwise.”
Kahl made his remarks to reporters yesterday, Sunday, Aug. 5th, at the TCA press tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.
The New Yorker article also “alleged a corporate culture that tolerated and protected violators” of sexual harassment and misconduct, The Post notes.
“Kahl said the entertainment division was a ‘nurturing and supportive environment’ for women, and he pointed to executive ranks as evidence,” The Post reports, quoting Kahl saying of the entertainment unit: “‘Sixty-one percent of executives at VP level or higher are women. The heads of all our major divisions are women. We’re committed to a collaborative, inclusive and safe workplace.”
The report notes that the entertainment unit oversees the flagship CBS Network’s scripted and unscripted programming.
Kahl added: “At the same time, we must respect the voices that come forward.”
Not everyone at the TCA was buying what Kahl had to say about the CBS culture. For example, Variety TV critic Caroline Framke, after hearing Kahl’s remarks, wrote a column titled “What CBS Still Needs to Learn About Taking the Moonves Allegations Seriously.”
“What Kahl did not do,” Framke writes, “was recognize that his personal experience — nor that of a female executive, for that matter — does not reflect that of a lower-level female employee with far less power and ability to push back. He didn’t allow that he just may not know about unhappy employees within his own division who don’t feel as though they can or should speak up. He didn’t acknowledge that corporate HR departments are often trained to protect the company first, insisting that CBS’ HR — despite much reporting to the contrary — ‘does a great job’ of recognizing complaints when they come in. He didn’t recognize that touting an age-old training program amidst allegations spanning decades might signal that their age-old training program might not be all that effective.
“Most telling of all, he wouldn’t allow that maybe, just maybe, so many unearthed allegations of abuse might signal a need for deep-rooted institutional change throughout CBS.”