The New York Occasions paints a bleak image of its personal work tradition
In a note signed by Times Publisher AG Sulzberger, CEO Meredith Kopit Levien and Executive Editor Dean Baquet, the Times leadership said the result of an eight-month survey of their own workplaces “prompts us to change our culture.” They compared that plan to the company’s shift to Digital First and Subscription First – efforts that have proven quite successful.
Three senior executives – Amber Guild, Carolyn Ryan, and Anand Venkatesan – have been appointed to lead the corporate culture review. Ryan, an assistant editor-in-chief who has been with The Times since 2007, told CNN Business that efforts began last summer with the aim of not “looking at diversity” in “numbers” but “in our culture.”
That decision came amid the nationwide movement for racial equality following the murders of black Americans, including George Floyd. Inside the Times, employees staged their own revolt over the newspaper’s decision to publish a statement by Republican Senator Tom Cotton calling for the US military to act amid the protests against Black Lives Matters. Several Times employees tweeted screenshots of the headline on Cotton’s article, “Send In the Troops,” saying, “If this is done, the Black @NYTimes employees are at risk.” Another controversy erupted in the Times earlier this month after the company split with two employees who were both previously accused in separate cases of unprofessional behavior. Staff were concerned about the management’s handling of departures.
The report does not mention employees by name, but alludes to a “star” culture in which employees question the Times’ commitment to fair enforcement of its policies and rules – and whether they are clear and strict enough at all.
Wednesday’s report, commissioned shortly after the Cotton controversy, paints a grim picture of the Times’ work culture. People of color were not only under-represented at The Times, but they also said they were treated unfairly and not respected.
“We have heard from many Asian-American women, for example, that they feel invisible and invisible – to the point that they are regularly called by the name of another colleague of the same race, which is also described by other people of color,” it says said in the report.
The review also found that “non-executive black colleagues are more likely to leave the company than white colleagues”.
These anecdotes were the result of conversations with more than 400 employees from different departments who participated in focus groups with independent consultants.
“Over the past few years we’ve hired hundreds of color journalists and brought people from all backgrounds to the newsroom,” Ryan told CNN Business. “But our culture has not changed and our culture has not evolved to really make sure we create the conditions in which all of our employees can do their best work.”
The report listed several statistics that reflect some of the progress The Times has made in diversifying its workforce: Since 2015, the proportion of people of color has increased from 27% to 34%; Colored people in management positions rose from 17% to 23%; the proportion of women rose from 45% to 52%; The proportion of women in management positions rose from 40% to 52%. According to the report, 48% of The Times new hires last year were black people.
The planned measures listed in the report include the goal of increasing the proportion of black and Latin American executives in management positions by 50% by the end of 2025. The Times plans to set up a Diversity, Justice and Inclusion Office in Human Resources and hire more staff dedicated to it. From 2022, diversity, equity and inclusion requirements will also be taken into account when evaluating and remunerating managers.
In addition to its employees, The Times plans to address diversity, equity, and inclusion in its business relationships. According to the report, the company will seek to partner with more business partners with different ownership levels.
Ryan told CNN Business that her company is at a “turning point”. She said that many aspects of business, such as the “obligation to report without fear or favor,” are not going to change, but many others must.
“This is a big step,” said Ryan. “But it really is the beginning of a change in our culture and it will take years.”