CBC’s Report into Jian Ghomeshi Says Management Basically Condoned His Behavior

The report found evidence that Ghomeshi was "emotionally unpredictable" and would play cruel jokes on his employees, make demeaning, inappropriate, and unwanted comments about their appearance, and not credit them for their work.

by Elianna Lev
Apr 17 2015, 12:30pm

Jian Ghomeshi in 2010, four years before long-simmering allegations of his abusive behaviour became public. Photo via Flickr user Brenda Lee

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.

In what should come as no surprise to anyone at this point, an independent investigator's review into the behavior of disgraced broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi, who faces multiple charges of sexual assault, during his time at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) concludes that management utterly failed its employees.

The 52-page report, which was conducted by Toronto lawyer Janice Rubin, says that management basically decided to see no evil and hear no evil so it could speak of no evil. In other words, they couldn't have been ignorant to the allegations of appalling behavior by the former host of Q.

After interviewing 99 people, the report states to have found evidence that Ghomeshi was "emotionally unpredictable" and would play cruel jokes on his employees, make demeaning, inappropriate, and unwanted comments about their appearance, and not credit them for their work, among other things that violated CBC standards.

The report describes incidents of sexual harassment by Ghomeshi, which included unwanted backrubs, flirtatious behavior with employees and on-air guests, and his tendency to share TMI about his sex life, which those interviewed felt were "too personal, too graphic, and generally unsavory."

Evidence gathered in the report also states that employees of Q weren't clear on who was in charge of the show or its host, a situation that often allowed Ghomeshi to abuse his position of power.

"Executive Producer as well as other staff members of Q felt that Mr. Ghomeshi's ability to 'go up the food chain' successfully meant that at best the Executive Director was Mr. Ghomeshi's boss on paper, but insofar as Mr. Ghomeshi got his way, Mr. Ghomeshi was the de facto boss of the show," the report says.

What's more unsettling is how little the higher-ups did about anything, according to Rubin.

"Management knew or ought to have known of this behavior and conduct and failed to take steps required of it in accordance with its own policies to ensure that the workplace was free from disrespectful and abusive conduct," the report states. "It is our conclusion that CBC management condoned this behavior."

Prior to the release of the report, CBC announced Thursday that two senior managers were no longer with the corporation—Chris Boyce, formerly the head of radio, and human resource executive Todd Spencer. Both had been placed on leave in January.

The report also arrived on the same day that 244 CBC employees were receiving pink slips, which CBC president Hubert Lacroix called a coincidence.

The report goes on the detail three missed opportunities where management could have addressed and remedied employee concerns, including the so-called Red Sky Document that was put together by Q employees in the summer of 2012 to outline issues about their working environment.

The report ends with seven recommendations, which include providing more training to all its employees on its revised policies and the establishment of a Respect at Work and Human Rights Ombudsperson.

On a conference call, Lacroix said the corporation was comfortable with the recommendations. While some steps were relatively simple, others would require more time and discussion.

"We are committed to making this happen," he said. "This is a culture shift, it's going to be about raising awareness, instructing employees, and training."

Earlier in the call, a wooden-sounding Heather Conway, executive vice-president of English Services, issued a formal apology to employees of CBC and to Canadians.

"I'm confident we can and will do better," she said.

Ghomeshi's next court date will be April 28. He has been charged with seven counts of sexual assault and one charge of overcoming resistance by choking.

Follow Elianna Lev on Twitter.

sexual assault
VICE Canada
Jian Ghomeshi
sexual harassment
Vice Blog
Elianna Lev
Elianna Lev VICE
Sexual Harassment CBC
Heather Conway
Janice Rubin
Hubert Lacroix
Red Sky Document
Chris Boyce