NEW YORK – The New York Times says it needs a culture change to become a better place to work, particularly for people of color.
The newspaper told its employees in a report Wednesday that it will take steps to be more inclusive and welcoming, saying its study of the workplace culture represents a “call to action.”
Like many news organizations, the Times looked inward following a national reckoning on race triggered by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police last spring. Many employees were angered by a Times opinion piece by Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton headlined “Send in the Troops” as an option to deal with racial unrest.
More recently, veteran Times science correspondent Donald McNeil Jr. left the paper after it was reported he used a racial slur while talking at a Times-sponsored trip to Peru for students in 2019.
The Times, in its report, committed to increasing the percentage of Blacks and Latinos in leadership roles from 9% now to 13.5% within five years. Dean Baquet, the Times' executive editor since 2014, is Black.
The report also said that a workplace culture that celebrates individual achievement and often relies on “unwritten rules” for advancement can be uncomfortable for many, but particularly people of color.
“What came through was the consistency of experiences,” said Carolyn Ryan, deputy managing editor and one of three authors of the report. “It was our culture, this kind of ‘sink or swim’ ethos.”
Often, actually leading people is considered a secondary part of a Times' manager's role, the report said. Several steps were outlined to make expectations clearer, keep lines of communication open and set pathways for advancement.
A survey of employees didn't just uncover bad news; 95% of Times employees said they felt pride in working at the paper, and most have had positive experiences.
It also found 48% of new hires at the Times last year were people of color, the newspaper said. The overall percentage of non-white employees has increased from 27% in 2015 to 34% now. A majority of staff members, and leaders, are women.
But the report found that while the Times was building a more diverse staff, it concentrated less on fostering an inclusive culture.
Putting the plan in place will require the most substantial investment the Times has ever made in terms of time, money and energy, publisher A.G. Sulzberger, CEO Meredith Kopit Levien and Baquet wrote in an introduction to the report.
“We believe that the changes in this plan will make our journalism, our business and our company stronger,” they wrote. “We also believe it will make The Times a better place to work, for all of us.”