The BBC — England’s largest, most respected news service — has been a breeding ground for sexual harassment, according to a scathing internal document called the Rose Review.
A breathtaking article recently published in the Guardian — “BBC’s climate of fear let bullies thrive, report into sexual harassment finds” — depicts a toxic workplace culture at the BBC.
According to the Guardian: “the BBC’s [internal] report into sexual harassment and bullying is a damning criticism of a culture in which staff were left terrified of some senior managers and on-screen stars, where ‘known bullies’ were allowed to prosper and even be promoted because they were perceived to be untouchable.”
Over the past six years, 35 members of the BBC’s 22,000 person staff were cited in 37 separate sexual harassment incidences, often involving young working women and junior staff.
One of the most prominent cases involved Stuart Hall, a presenter for the BBC (in American parlance, a “presenter” is a “host”). Hall recently pled guilty to 14 counts of assaulting girls, one of whom was just 9 years old!
Diana Rose’s review, officially called “Respect at Work,” suggested that people in the upper echelon of the BBC acted as if they “didn’t have to adhere to the same rules [as lower level employees] because they wield power over the organization and anyone who tries to manage them.”
The Rose Review found that many sexual harassment cases did lead to termination or a final warning. But in some cases — “a very small” number — offenders got promoted, despite multiple sexual harassment charges against them.
The report said that male workers often would “seek out, flatter and support younger female freelancers and contractors above their male counterparts.” This behavior was “visible, frequent, and consistent enough to be a very real concern,” but it did not reach pervasive or epidemic levels. Bullying was actually more of a problem, according to the report.
What Makes a Workplace Culture Toxic?
Many people think in binary terms, when it comes to workplace cultures. Either an organization has a dysfunctional culture, or it’s healthy and robust. But there are many shades of gray.
In fact, an organization can be built on sound values and contain many good people. But one or two “bad apples” can, as they say, “spoil the bunch.”
Subtle forms of harassment, discrimination, and bullying can be just as damaging as the more overt kinds of bad behavior. Over time, bullying and harassment can blunt self-esteem and destroy the health of workers by creating stress and psychological trauma.
If you’ve been harassed, bullied, and otherwise tormented at work, the team at Joseph & Kirschenbaum, LLP would like to provide you a free, confidential consultation, so that you can understand your rights and possible remedies. Call us now at (212) 688-5640.