In July 2020, results of an investigation reveal multiple current and former employees of The Ellen Degeneres Show reporting racism, bullying, sexual harassment, and intimidation by executive producers and other senior staff.

Her show is deep in a crisis of culture.

Ellen herself was not the cause of the toxic environment – but she was insulated from the day-to-day employee experiences.

Ellen wrote a letter to staff members expressing her disappointment at the toxicity of the show’s culture. “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,” she wrote. “Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I am sorry.”

At the core of this culture crisis is a senior leader who was disconnected from the employee experience, who did not keep her “fingers on the pulse” of whether or not employees were happy working on the show, whether they were treated respectfully in every interaction, or not.

Degeneres is not alone in this “miss.” Far too few senior leaders have an authentic understanding of the experiences employees have daily in their organizations.

To address this crisis, Ellen needs to actively engage with the show’s primary customers – employees – now and regularly. The show’s secondary customers – guests and viewers – will be well served by show employees who experience a purposeful, positive, productive work culture on set.

In today’s three minute episode of my Culture Leadership Charge video series, I describe how formalizing the show’s work culture can help build respect, monitor respect, and ensure respect on set.

This is episode eighty-seven of my Culture Leadership Charge series. Each episode is a 3-4 minute video that describes proven culture leadership and servant leadership practices that boost engagement, service, and results across your work teams, departments, regions, companies – and even homes and neighborhoods.

You’ll find my Culture Leadership Charge episodes and more on my YouTube and my iTunes channels. If you like what you see or hear, please subscribe!

Have you responded to this month’s culture leadership poll? Add your perspective to two questions – it’ll take you less than a minute. Then click the “results” link to see what others from around the globe think!

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S. Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of The Culture Engine and six other books.
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