Ellen DeGeneres addresses allegations of toxic work culture in staff letter
Ellen DeGeneres is finally speaking out after months of allegations that she fostered a toxic workplace culture on her eponymous daytime talk show.
In a letter to her staff, obtained by EW, DeGeneres took responsibility for the issues and promised that "things will now change."
This development came days after The Ellen DeGeneres Show was placed under internal investigation by WarnerMedia following allegations detailed in a BuzzFeed News report. Nearly a dozen current and former employees spoke to the outlet about their experiences on set, which they described as a "toxic work environment" filled with racism, intimidation, and fear.
While DeGeneres didn't touch on any specific complaints in the letter, she stated that "we are taking steps, together, to correct the issues." (Representatives for DeGeneres and The Ellen DeGeneres Show did not immediately respond to EW's request for further comment.)
"As we've grown exponentially, I've not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew I'd want them done," DeGeneres wrote. "Clearly some didn't. That will now change and I'm committed to ensuring this does not happen again."
The Hollywood Reporter, which broke the news of DeGeneres' letter, also reported that executive producer Ed Glavin, whose behavior was specifically called out in the BuzzFeed story, will be among those sent packing.
Glavin, fellow EPs Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner, and senior managers on the program have been accused of "day-to-day toxicity" toward employees.
In a statement to BuzzFeed, Glavin, Connelly, and Lassner said that while they have tried to create an "inclusive work environment," "we are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience."
DeGeneres' letter also said that from day one of the show, the host set out to make the environment "a place of happiness," and mentioned how she has experienced what it's like to be marginalized.
"I'm also learning that people who work with me and for me are speaking on my behalf and misrepresenting who I am and that has to stop," DeGeneres wrote. "As someone who was judged and nearly lost everything for just being who I am, I truly understand and have deep compassion for those being looked at differently, or treated unfairly, not equal, or — worse — disregarded. To think that any one of you felt that way is awful to me."
In a statement to EW, Warner Bros. disclosed that WarnerMedia interviewed "dozens of current and former employees" and found "deficiencies" in how the show was run. Without naming names, the company also revealed that there will be "several staffing changes made."
Here is Warner Bros.' full statement:
Warner Bros. and Ellen DeGeneres take the recent allegations around the show's workplace culture very seriously. We hoped to determine the validity and extent of publicly reported allegations and to understand the full breadth of the show's day-to-day culture. As a result, WarnerMedia interviewed dozens of current and former employees about the environment at The Ellen DeGeneres Show. It was important to both Warner Bros. and Ellen that as many people as possible attached to the program could be heard. The Ellen DeGeneres Show is, and has always strived to be, a place that brings positivity to the world. And though not all of the allegations were corroborated, we are disappointed that the primary findings of the investigation indicated some deficiencies related to the show's day-to-day management. We have identified several staffing changes, along with appropriate measures to address the issues that have been raised, and are taking the first steps to implement them. Warner Bros. and Ellen DeGeneres are all committed to ensuring a workplace based on respect and inclusion. We are confident this course of action will lead us to the right way forward for the show.
Below is DeGeneres' complete letter to her crew:
Hey everybody — it's Ellen. On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that The Ellen DeGeneres Show would be a place of happiness — no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect. Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I am sorry. Anyone who knows me knows it's the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show.
I could not have the success I've had without all of your contributions. My name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that. Alongside Warner Bros, we immediately began an internal investigation and we are taking steps, together, to correct the issues. As we've grown exponentially, I've not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew I'd want them done. Clearly some didn't. That will now change and I'm committed to ensuring this does not happen again.
I'm also learning that people who work with me and for me are speaking on my behalf and misrepresenting who I am and that has to stop. As someone who was judged and nearly lost everything for just being who I am, I truly understand and have deep compassion for those being looked at differently, or treated unfairly, not equal, or — worse — disregarded. To think that any one of you felt that way is awful to me.
It's been way too long, but we're finally having conversations about fairness and justice. We all have to be more mindful about the way our words and actions affect others, and I'm glad the issues at our show were brought to my attention. I promise to do my part in continuing to push myself and everyone around me to learn and grow. It's important to me and to Warner Bros. that everyone who has something to say can speak up and feels safe doing so.
I am so proud of the work we do and the fun and joy we all help put out in the world. I want everyone at home to love our show and I want everyone who makes it to love working on it. Again, I'm so sorry to anyone who didn't have that experience. If not for COVID, I'd have done this in person, and I can't wait to be back on our stage and see you all then.
Stay safe and healthy.