Employees with National Public Radio (NPR) have accused the CEO of the giant network of overt racism in the wake of a total virtual all-staff presentation made this past week which detailed financial metrics and updates on diversity statistics in the wake of the large organization cutting its workforce by close to 10%.
Officials with NPR announced layoffs for a total of 84 employees last week and cut production on four seasonal podcasts, including Invisibilia, Louder Than a Riot, and Rough Translation. A report from The Wall Street Journal explained that network officials were slated to cut yet another 13 people from the digital team.
In the wake of the exodus from ex-staffers, Lansing and other executives reportedly tuned into a meeting held on Zoom to deal with questions from employees that included the total number of employees of various races and identities that were laid off compared to those that kept their job.
“We’re here today to take your questions and see if we can move together through this,” stated Lansing, as explained in a recording of the meeting discovered by Bloomberg, going on to add that the network would have entirely been bled dry in roughly three years if the company maintained its full staff.
At one point while the meeting was happening, The Wall Street Journal issued a report about one laid-off black employee that grilled Lansing about a few podcasts that lacked support from marketing.
Lansing highlighted the mission statement for the network and told the group to “turn down the rhetoric” and not put the names of the executives on blast.
“I would never, ever, on your worst day, call you out by name in a meeting with 827 people,” he stated. “Let’s please keep in mind nobody is happy about this. Nobody is more unhappy about it than those affected, but certainly, everybody in the company, beginning with me, this is the last thing we wanted to do.”
Despite the comments from Lansing about making this kind of choice, a group of employees reportedly slammed him with accusations of “tone-policing,” which ended up making them feel uncomfortable and offended with the conversation, which he stated should have been more civil.
Employees started labeling Lansing as “racist” throughout the company meeting.
One employee made reference to a segment from NPR’s Code Switch titled “When Civility Is Used As A Cudgel Against People Of Color.”
“Civility is a weapon wielded by the powerful,” explained a person, as reported by Bloomberg.
“This meeting has made me more afraid for the future of public media than any conversation I have had in a very long time,” stated another.
As read in an email, NPR Chief Communications Officer Isabel Lara expressed to Bloomberg that the group creates “forums for internal staff conversations and respects the hard questions that come from our staff.”
“We value the feedback we receive and acknowledge that this is an incredibly difficult time for everyone in our organization,” stated Lara. “Our staff has the right and duty to hold NPR leadership accountable,” going on to state that the group has promised to creat and maintain an environment where “we treat our colleagues with the utmost compassion, respect and dignity, and we will continue to provide opportunities for everyone in the organization to provide feedback on this process and support continuing dialogue.”