Improving NPR's Workplace Culture

Feb 16, 2018
Originally published on February 21, 2018 9:57 am

NPR's leadership is committed to addressing issues of sexual harassment and has taken immediate steps to improve NPR's work environment and our complaint process.

For the past three months NPR's Chief Operating Officer Loren Mayor has been meeting with groups of employees to hear their concerns and ask what NPR could be doing better to rebuild trust and improve workplace culture after revelations of sexual harassment forced us to reexamine our workplace. Supported by staff input, NPR has instituted several workplace improvement initiatives, including the following:

  • Clarifying and strengthening the complaint process. We have clarified the process for making complaints and added new avenues for raising concerns of inappropriate behavior, including an anonymous hotline. We have identified and communicated a range of consequences for inappropriate behavior. These include verbal warnings, personalized training, a change of responsibilities or assignments, suspension, and termination. We have enhanced our investigation process, reviewing complaints by representatives of both the HR and Legal teams and working with outside counsel and our union representatives as appropriate. Our overarching goal is to ensure that everyone at NPR is safe and treated with respect.

  • Creating the Anti-Harassment Support Group. This will be a network of trained and vetted volunteer colleagues who will listen and assist staff who may have experienced unwelcome behavior at work, including sexual harassment. The volunteers will advise and serve as guides through NPR's misconduct reporting process if actions are warranted. The group will work as an independent partner with NPR's management, HR and Legal departments, as appropriate, to make sure NPR staff are getting the right support and follow-up when misconduct has been reported.

  • Improving sexual harassment training. We are replacing our bi-annual, online sexual harassment training module with mandatory, in-person sexual harassment training provided annually and more frequently if warranted.

  • Conducting a climate survey. This project is being led by a cross-functional employee team who will work with a vendor to conduct an evaluation of the corporate culture, provide recommendations to strengthen the work environment, and provide skill building for all employees.

  • Strengthening our HR function. A strong HR function is essential in our work to improve our culture. We have elevated the senior-most position in HR to Chief HR Officer, we are adding capacity to the team with dedicated HR support at each of our sites, we have redefined priorities to increase company-wide efforts to improve training and foster an inclusive work place, and we are developing ways to increase executive accountability and increase employee engagement.

  • Increase training opportunities. We want to ensure that everyone has the tools to advance their careers and be successful at NPR – including managers and employees, whether regular or temporary, full time or part time. We are working to provide the training and development tools to support that.

While we have enacted these changes, the NPR Board of Directors has also retained the law firm Morgan Lewis to investigate sexual harassment at NPR and review NPR's related processes and procedures. The Board will issue recommendations based on the report and we will incorporate them into our work.

The activities outlined here present a snap shot of where we are now in our effort to strengthen the culture of NPR. This is a work in progress, and we will continue to listen to our staff and adjust and improve as needed. Our overarching goal, however, is to ensure that we have a safer, more inclusive, and more respectful environment for years to come.

Many people throughout the organization are involved in making this work happen, and we are grateful for their collective effort. Everyone at NPR cares deeply about our mission and our audiences, and we are committed to doing everything we can to surface from this moment stronger than before.

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