The New York Times Diversity Report Finds Major Failings

The New York Times has released the findings of the report it commissioned on diversity in its workforce, concluding that much needs to be done.

Eight months ago amid nationwide protests against the police killing of George Floyd, as well as centuries of systemic racism in the U.S., the publisher tasked T Brand Studios editor Amber Guild, deputy managing editor Carolyn Ryan and senior vice president Anand Venkatesan with examining how The Times was falling short within its own walls. The trio found that while it has made progress in diversifying the company in recent years (last year, 48 percent of new hires were people of color), it is “too often a difficult place to work for people of all backgrounds” — particularly staffers of color, and especially Black and Latino employees.

“We heard from many Asian American women, for example, about feeling invisible and unseen — to the point of being regularly called by the name of a different colleague of the same race, something other people of color described as well,” said the report, which is based on interviews with 400 staff members, according to The Times. “We found that our Black and Latino colleagues face the largest and most pervasive challenges.”

In particular, it stated that Black and Latino people are notably underrepresented in leadership and that Black colleagues who are not in leadership positions leave the company at a higher rate than white colleagues. What’s more, Black employees, and Black women in particular, rated the company lower across nearly all categories of its 2020 employee survey, with the lowest scores around fairness and inclusion.

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In order to address these issues, the report suggested a number of measures including establishing an employee advisory group that works with leaders to make The Times more diverse, equitable and inclusive; setting a goal of increasing the representation of Black and Latino colleagues in leadership by 50 percent by 2025, and investing significantly in human resources to bolster the ways in which it hires, develops, promotes and engages people.

In an introduction to the report, chief executive officer Meredith Kopit Levien, executive editor Dean Baquet and chairman A. G. Sulzberger, said: “The actions it recommends will require the most substantial investment The Times has ever made — in terms of time, money and energy — in advancing our culture. We believe this work represents an important and necessary next step in the broader evolution of the company.”

The report caps off months of internal drama at the Gray Lady. Most recently, longtime science reporter Donald McNeil Jr. and audio journalist Andy Mills, both mired in separate controversies, exited the company. Last month, it emerged that McNeil had used racist language on a 2019 trip with students to Peru. At the time, Baquet had disciplined him, but in the days after it became public, the executive editor came under pressure from staffers to take further action. 

As for Mills, he was a producer on the “Caliphate” podcast about the Islamic State, which had to return high-profile awards, including a Peabody, after its main subject was discovered to be a fraud. Management was criticized for demoting the main reporter, Rukmini Callimachi, on the podcast, but not taking action against Mills. Before the podcast was released, The Cut published an article alleging that Mills had behaved inappropriately toward female coworkers at Radiolab, including unsolicited back rubs at one colleague’s desk and spilling beer on another. According to the article, he was given a warning by parent company WNYC. The allegations resurfaced following the “Caliphate” correction.

 

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