The Ellen DeGeneres Show

The Ellen DeGeneres Show Investigation Reminds Leaders about Workplace Culture

After months of leaks and rumors about misconduct, it is now being reported that The Ellen DeGeneres Show is under internal investigation by WarnerMedia. This follows a series of allegations of racism, workplace intimidation and other mistreatment made by employees. As a leader in your organization, watching this situation unfold should serve as a reminder of these five takeaways.

  1. Take accountability for your workplace culture. While the unnamed accusers in the DeGeneres allegations claim that executive producers and human resources were at fault for the alleged mistreatment, Ellen DeGeneres’ name, face and personality are the show, which makes her ultimately accountable for her employees actions. In an organization, the leader is responsible for the culture that is created under them.
  2. Clearly communicate your vision, values and code of conduct for your organization. Strong leaders take the time to articulate guiding principles for their team to live by. This includes a vision for the organization, the values the organization holds dear, and a code of conduct that is expected from all employees. These should be woven into the fabric of daily activities and repeated often. Everyone in the organization should know what is right and what is unacceptable.
  3. Authentically care about people. Great leaders get to know the people with whom they work, gain their trust, and make them feel valued and appreciated in their job. In toxic work cultures, people feel as though no one cares. Leaders should take a genuine interest in employees at every level of their careers. Employee recognition and promotion are results of a caring culture, and mistreatment of any kind must be dealt with swiftly.
  4. Encourage openness. Create environments that are open and encourage sharing information and allow for transparency, vulnerability and honesty. The motto should be, “See something. Feel something. Say something”. When employees don’t feel that they can communicate openly, the effects are detrimental and can create resentment.
  5. Align your persona and actions. Part of what is so newsworthy about The Ellen DeGeneres Show allegations are that they are at odds with her “be kind” and “do good” image that she presents on television. An organization’s external appearance should be reflective of its internal culture.
  • Bottom line: A leader is responsible for creating their workplace culture and preventing toxicity. As we all watch the investigation unfold and the potential impact on Ellen DeGeneres’s career and reputation, leaders should heed this reminder that workplace culture needs to be a priority. Aron Ain, chairman and CEO of Kronos Incorporated (a workforce management and HR software company which has become widely recognized as a best place to work by sources such as Fortune and Glassdoor) and author of WorkInspired: How to Build an Organization Where Everyone Loves to Work, says it best, “Stay humble to create a fantastic work culture.”
  • Nanette R. Fridman is a veteran organizational strategist and leadership coach. She is the President of Fridman Strategies, Inc. and a partner in Working Wonders. She can be reached at

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