Why CBC's probe will change little
CBC personality Jian Ghomeshi arrives on the red carpet at the 2014 Canadian Screen awards in Toronto, March 9, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
CBC isn't serious about dealing with allegations of harassment and misconduct in their own workplace and now I have the proof.
In the face of allegations against former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi, the state broadcaster appointed employment lawyer Janice Rubin to look into the matter. The first red flag is Rubin's long association with CBC as a contributor and even guest host. That raises questions of a reasonable apprehension of bias.
Then there is the mandate CBC gave to Rubin.
At first CBC wasn't interested in sharing the marching orders for the investigation and now we know why. The mandate for Rubin's investigation is purely reactive; she has to be contacted by employees who may have had a bad experience.
She has no mandate to investigate, only react to what is brought to her.
The mandate also doesn't go beyond this one host; CBC wants you to think this is all about Jian Ghomeshi and no one else.
From the mandate CBC provided to Rubin:
"(a) Current and former CBC/Radio Canada employees who worked on the 'Q' or 'Play' programs during the period in which Jian Ghomeshi hosted these programs."
Is that clear? If you experienced or are experiencing problems elsewhere you just need to go to the HR department which has been doing such a fine job, sidetracking complaints into their informal process.
Remember when CBC was called before the status of women committee after I wrote about harassment at the state broadcaster? They would only admit to three formal complaints, but they kept talking about informal complaints, the records of which were destroyed.
So Rubin will meet with people if they contact her through a special phone line and e-mail address, she will document their complaints and then: "(e) Following the completion of her investigation, she will prepare and deliver to CBC/Radio Canada’s Vice President, People & Culture, or other individuals designated by CBC/Radio Canada, a final written report."
That all sounds fine but let's look at who that report will go to. The vice-president of people and culture at CBC is Roula Zaarour.
Her bio on the CBC website says she has been in this position since 2011 and "Ms. Zaarour is responsible for delivering the Corporation’s human resources services and ensuring a positive relationship between management and employees."
Let me just say that perhaps the person who has been in charge of the HR department during the time period when so many of the allegations were made might be part of the problem.
Zaarour has been the top HR person of a corporation where everyone seemingly knew about problems with Ghomeshi and did nothing.
I've talked to CBC staffers who say everyone had heard the rumours, everyone it seems but the people at the top. Other journalists following this story have heard the same thing.
Beyond the sex allegations against Ghomeshi there was the poisonous management style on the show, which according to reports in the Globe and Mail resulted in Q staff members holding secret meetings and taking their concerns to management. Nothing changed.
All of this happened on Zaarour's watch.
So now they have their investigation - fronted by a woman with strong connections and a long history of working with CBC. They've given her a limited mandate that doesn't include being able to do a full investigation and when she does file her report it goes to the woman whose job it was to ensure a fair workplace and failed.
Whitewash is the only way to describe this.