Time’s Up, a woman’s advocacy group formed as the #MeToo movement roiled Hollywood, issued an unflinching condemnation of NBCUniversal following Variety’s exclusive reports surrounding the departure of “America’s Got Talent’ judge Gabrielle Union.
Newly appointed Time’s Up CEO Tina Tchen decried what she observed as a “pattern” within NBC as an institution — one that protects powerful men and retaliates against women who speak out, she said.
“Gabrielle Union’s experience at ‘America’s Got Talent’ is exemplary of the double bind that black women face at work. Not only did Union reportedly endure and witness racist and inappropriate behavior — including racially-insensitive comments and excessive criticism about her physical appearance — but it also appears she was punished for speaking out: the company labeled her as ‘difficult’ before ousting her from the show altogether,” Tchen said.
NBC had no comment on Tchen’s remarks, beyond a joint statement on Sunday made with “America’s Got Talent’ producers Fremantle and Simon Cowell’s Syco, which pledged to speak with Union about her concerns while on the show. The network has hired third party counsel, one insider close to NBC said, to help gather information about Union’s complaints. She is expected to sit with NBC and the third party this week, the insider added.
“Union’s story is deeply troubling on its own, but her experience is particularly problematic because it follows a pattern of NBCUniversal protecting the careers of powerful men at the expense of women who speak out. Union’s experience shows that NBCUniversal still has a lot of work to do to change its culture so discrimination, harassment, and retaliation are no longer tolerated at the company,” Tchen continued.
Tchen, a former chief of staff to Michelle Obama, concluded, “building a culture of safety and equity requires continuous, intentional work sustained over a long period of time – even when a company isn’t in the throes of a crisis. Ensuring people of all kinds are respected and supported at work is critical for any company, but especially a media company like NBC that has such an outsized influence in our culture and in our lives.”