Top NBCUniversal Exec Outlines Plans to "Prevent Discrimination and Harassment"

Mark Lazarus-serious-Getty - H 2020
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

NBCUniversal TV and Streaming chairman Mark Lazarus is bolstering the company's efforts to create a safe workplace environment.

In a companywide memo he sent Tuesday, the executive — who oversees NBC Entertainment, streamer Peacock and multiple cable networks including USA and Syfy — detailed expanded protections for employees both on programming that's produced in-house and from third-party suppliers. (Read the memo in full, below.)

The increased efforts come amid a continued reckoning in Hollywood as executives, stars and showrunners alike are increasingly being held accountable for inappropriate behavior. The news arrives after NBC's America's Got Talent — which is produced by a third-party supplier, Fremantle — opted to not renew Gabrielle Union's contract after a one-season run. Union has filed a complaint against NBC and Fremantle in which she detailed an alleged "toxic culture" on the veteran series. 

An NBC investigation into Union's complaints of racial insensitivity and toxic culture in May found a "culture of diversity" at America's Got Talent. Ahead of the investigation, NBC Entertainment president Paul Telegdy said in January that the network would "put new practices in place, if that's what's necessary."

Lazarus was promoted to NBCUniversal TV and Streaming chairman in May.

Here's the memo from Lazarus in full:

I wanted to share the good news that we are gearing up to go back into production on many of our shows across our linear and streaming platforms. As we return, we are taking this opportunity to look holistically at a healthy workplace environment, not only as it relates to safety measures in response to COVID-19, but with regard to culture as well.

Employees on shows produced by NBCUniversal work under the protection of respectful workplace policies and procedures designed to prevent discrimination and harassment – including specially tailored training for the TV production environment and various reporting mechanisms.  But with many of our series produced by outside entities, we have come to realize that we need to do more. When a show airs on our networks, even if we do not produce it, we need to take a more active role in ensuring that the experience on set accurately reflects our company’s values.  

To support this effort, we have started to provide our third-party production partners with a variety of additional resources that reflect those provided to our in-house productions, including: respectful workplace policies, training materials tailored to the various types of production, and additional channels through which workers can report workplace concerns, including Comcast NBCUniversal Listens, which allows for anonymous reporting.

We will also expand our production-focused HR and corporate-level Fair Employment Practices teams, who will serve as resources for these shows as needed. In addition, we will provide our network employees who work closely with these third-party productions with specialized training to help them identify and escalate workplace issues they observe or experience themselves. 

Promoting a positive culture is an ongoing effort, and with this commitment, we are confident that we will be able to promote a positive and respectful work environment across all productions. For more information or if you have any questions please reach out to your HR manager.