Time's Up Calls for CBS to Close Pay Gaps, Prioritize Diverse Hiring

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Leslie Moonves

In an open letter published on the organization's website Tuesday, the group tells the network "this is your moment."

Time's Up is calling for CBS to commission an independent investigation of work culture and conduct a pay equity study to close racial and gender pay gaps in the wake of former CEO Les Moonves' resignation on Sunday.

In an open letter published on the organization's website Tuesday, and reported first by CBS News, the group tells the network that in the wake of an executive turnover, "this is your moment." Addressing Shari Redstone, the vice chairwoman of CBS Corporation, as well as the rest of the board of directors, Time's Up writes, "As one of the world’s most powerful companies, you have a choice. You can cling to a status quo as it crumbles around you. Or you can demonstrate what happens when true leadership embraces the future. Now is your opportunity to rise."

It also provides five commitments that it "urges" the revamped organization to follow. Those include: an independent investigation of sexual harassment at the company with safeguards so that those who step forward are not retaliated against; the establishment of a work culture that prioritizes "the values of safety, equity and dignity" and oversight to ensure its maintenance; creating a hiring, promotion and retention policy that promotes diversity; offering training on new workplace values and conducting a pay equity study to close unjust gaps based on gender or race.

"We ask that you review and remake not only the structure, but the culture, of CBS and take ongoing responsibility for issues of safety and equity in your company," the letter reads.

In its letter, Time's Up additionally criticizes the reshuffling of CBS' board following Moonves' exit. Six board members (Joseph Califano Jr., Charles Gifford, Leonard Goldberg, Arnold Kopelson, Douglas Morris and David Andelman) have stepped down and six (Candace Beinecke, Barbara Byrne, Brian Goldner, Richard D. Parsons, Susan Schuman and Strauss Zelnick) have been added in their place. 

While acknowledging that more women were added to the board in the turnaround, Time's Up writes, "In reconstituting the board so quickly, an opportunity for meaningful inclusion was missed. Women of color and other underrepresented candidates were not added to the board in ways that are reflective of CBS’s vast audiences."

The organization also reiterates its demand that CBS donate a previously negotiated $120 million exit package for Moonves to organizations devoted to women, and asks that an investigation into work culture be "transparent" to the public.

Moonves left the company Sunday after a second story in The New Yorker, published that day, reported claims that he had sexually harassed and assaulted women in the workplace over several decades. An initial story was published on the magazine's website in late July.

Both stories have additionally reported on allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of Jeff Fager, the executive producer of 60 Minutes. Fager remains at the company.

Read the letter in full below, or at the Time's Up website.

Dear Ms. Redstone and Members of the Board of the CBS Corporation:

This is your moment. A cascade of women’s voices has changed the rules. The old playbook no longer applies. As one of the world’s most powerful companies, you have a choice. You can cling to a status quo as it crumbles around you. Or you can demonstrate what happens when true leadership embraces the future. Now is your opportunity to rise.  

As Norah O’Donnell said this week on CBS This Morning, “women will never achieve true equality in the workplace and in society until there is a reckoning and an acceptance of responsibility by those in charge.” This is that reckoning. The CBS environment is your responsibility.

It has been an eventful few days with important changes made by CBS: the departure of the CEO, the refresh of the Board of Directors and the oversight that the board has started to assert. But it’s not over yet.

TIME’S UP was formed to help workplaces move forward into a new era — a world that insists on safe, fair and dignified work for women of all kinds. We are asking you, the board and senior management, to move into that era with us for the sake of your employees and as an example to your colleagues and corporate peers. We ask that you review and remake not only the structure, but the culture, of CBS and take ongoing responsibility for issues of safety and equity in your company. 

Sexual harassment, retaliation and toxic work environments exist when workplaces are not fully diverse and inclusive at all levels and employees are not able to feel safe or reach their full potential. Full, independent investigations of alleged wrongdoing and the departure of a few executives is only the start. Real progress can only occur with a transparent commitment to long-term structural changes from top to bottom.   

We are glad to see the appointment of several new women to the board. But in reconstituting the board so quickly, an opportunity for meaningful inclusion was missed. Women of color and other underrepresented candidates were not added to the board in ways that are reflective of CBS’s vast audiences. 

While working on this issue, the new board can also demonstrate leadership in tackling the ongoing issues that hamper women’s advancement and equality in the workplace.  

TIME’S UP urges the newly reconstituted Board of CBS to commit to the following:

●     A full, independent investigation of any allegations of sexual harassment, regardless of whether the subject of the investigation resigns or departs. Those who come forward must also be protected from potential retaliation.

●     Establishing a workplace culture that represents the values of safety, equity and dignity, with this tone set from the top of the company. The board should establish regular (not just special committee) oversight of workplace culture as a matter of corporate governance, and senior management should be held accountable with specific and measurable benchmarks.  

●     Establishing a hiring, promotion and retention policy that will create an inclusive workforce at all levels, and set and measure goals for achieving a workplace reflective of the American population. This includes aggressive recruitment for truly diverse management talent, as well as the pipeline for entry-level positions. As listed on the company’s website, the nine current most senior members of the CBS Corporation Executive management team and the heads of each of CBS’s Divisions are all men. 

●     Providing training at all levels of the company, including the board, on the company’s values, diversity and inclusion, and management skills, and commit to providing this training on a regular basis.  

●     Undertaking a pay equity study, and commit to closing any racial, ethnic or gender gaps.

We do not expect these measures to be implemented overnight. We do not ask for miracles. We recognize that meaningful, sustainable change will take time. But by enacting measures such as the above, you can create a model for not only the media and entertainment industry, but companies in general.

As it relates to Mr. Moonves, we ask for a commitment to assure that the results of the investigation will provide transparent integrity in the process. We also urge that the full amount reserved for Mr. Moonves’ severance be contributed to organizations that address sexual harassment and workplace safety. That is $120 million dollars that will either go to Mr. Moonves or back into the coffers of the company that allowed the culture created by Mr. Moonves to continue. Or that $120 million can create change by going to organizations — and there are many impactful organizations — that can help women of all kinds. The choice is yours. But the answer is obvious. We ask that you not dishonor the bravery of those who have come forward by spending that money unwisely.

 As we said, now is your opportunity to rise.   

 We stand ready to work with you and to promote your progress as it occurs.