Ellen DeGeneres Show blasted by former, current employees for 'toxic work environment'
Despite the "Be Kind" facade, former and current employees are calling out The Ellen DeGeneres Show for promoting a "toxic work environment" full of racism, intimidation, and fear.
A new BuzzFeed News report features interviews with one current and 10 former employees of the daytime talk show hosted by Ellen DeGeneres who all spoke anonymously about what they experienced while working on set. From a Black employee highlighting racist microagressions that resulted in her walking off the job to others claiming they were fired after taking medical leave or bereavement days to attend family funerals, they paint a picture of a behind-the-scenes culture that clashes with the onscreen values touted by the show.
"That 'be kind' bulls--- only happens when the cameras are on. It’s all for show," one former employee said. "I know they give money to people and help them out, but it’s for show."
In the report, a Black female former employee detailed the racist comments and actions she experienced while working there for a year and a half, like when she was hired, a senior-level producer told her and another Black employee, "Oh wow, you both have box braids; I hope we don’t get you confused." She also said that at a work party, one of the main writers told her, "I’m sorry, I only know the names of the white people who work here," and other coworkers "awkwardly laughed it off" instead of coming to her defense.
"Whenever I brought up an issue to my white male boss, he would bring up some random story about some random Black friend that he had and how they managed to get over stuff," she said. "He would use his Black friend as some way to say, 'I understand your struggle.' But it was all performative bulls---."
According to the report, most of the former employees blamed the executive producers and other senior managers for "the day-to-day toxicity." But some said they were also instructed by their direct managers to not speak to DeGeneres if they saw her around the office, prompting one former employee to say that since it’s Ellen’s name on the show, "she really needs to take more responsibility."
"If she wants to have her own show and have her name on the show title, she needs to be more involved to see what's going on," one former employee said. "I think the executive producers surround her and tell her, 'Things are going great, everybody's happy,' and she just believes that, but it's her responsibility to go beyond that."
In response to the report, The Ellen DeGeneres Show executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly, and Andy Lassner released a joint statement to the outlet taking full responsibility for the show's daily operations.
"Over the course of nearly two decades, 3,000 episodes and employing over 1000 staff members, we have strived to create an open, safe and inclusive work environment," the statement says. "We are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience. It’s not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us. For the record, the day-to-day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us. We take all of this very seriously and we realize, as many in the world are learning, that we need to do better, are committed to do better, and we will do better."
To help combat systemic racism, please consider donating to these organizations:
- Campaign Zero, which is dedicated to ending police brutality in America through research-based strategies.
- Color of Change, which works to move decision makers in corporations and government to be more responsive to racial disparities.
- Equal Justice Initiative, which provides legal services to people who have been wrongly convicted, denied a fair trial, or abused in state jails and prisons.