That appears from Seen nothing, heard nothing, did nothing, the report of the Van Rijn committee, which conducted research for over a year. The committee did not just do this based on the circumstances DWDDbut also to the broader Dutch public broadcaster.
More than 2,500 people completed a committee questionnaire. The committee also spoke with more than two hundred people. Three quarters of those more than two hundred people say they have been victims or witnesses of inappropriate behavior. NPO employees have been grabbed by the throat, pushed to the ground and spat in the face.
“The committee is shocked by the group of employees who said that they were confronted with inappropriate behavior,” Van Rijn said. ‘The conversations were penetrating and often emotional.’ The committee was established after revelations about inappropriate behavior at The world goes on.
The research was ‘not person-oriented’, the committee writes. ‘We have not concerned ourselves with the question ‘who said or did what at time x and is there evidence of this?’.
Including appendices, the report has 204 pages. Fourteen of these were used for reported abuses DWDD. A section is also about NOS Sport, where the editor-in-chief resigned last year after reports of inappropriate behavior.
• Both star presenters and novice presenters should receive guidance, even if they do not want it.
• The complaints procedure at the NPO and the broadcasters must be improved. Confidential counselors are not always found or deemed safe.
• Set a maximum term of office for directors. ‘Feelings of abuse of power, favoritism and ‘buying’ loyalty are promoted when employees are dependent for a long time on decisions made by a few people, or when too many responsibilities fall on one person.’ A maximum term of office can break that mechanism, according to the committee
Unequal sexual relations
DWDD-employees outlined various incidents in which managers responded disproportionately to minor mistakes or setbacks, the committee writes. This ‘way of management burdened the work situation according to the DWDD-employees even more, because according to them this was accompanied by a lot of verbal violence, shouting, threatening, non-verbal intimidation, and in some cases physical violence.’
It was also considered ‘normal’ on the talk show for male managers to sleep with female colleagues in subordinate positions. Former employees told the committee that they were asked to ‘facilitate the appearance and sexual preferences of managers’. They stated that ‘outward appearance and sexual availability’ played a role in the appointments or contract extensions of women.
According to the editorial committee, sexism was a widespread problem. There were ‘persistent requests for sexual contact’ and a culture of ‘inappropriate cocky behavior’. Some former editors did not dare to reveal their orientation in that culture.
There was more transgressive behavior at NOS Sport than on average at the public broadcaster, the committee said. This mainly concerns bullying, sexism and discrimination. Of those surveyed, 23 percent say they have experienced discrimination. Women were ‘hunted’, they were seen as ‘loose game’ or ‘prey’.
Former employees told the committee that this led to mental complaints, stress and depression. Physical consequences included burnouts, stomach ache and sleeping problems.
More conclusions from the report
• More than 55 percent of the 190 employees who were interviewed said they had encountered expressions of sexism as a target or as a witness.
• A large number of different examples of bullying behavior were mentioned in the conversations.
• Discrimination has been mentioned by more than a quarter of the 190 employees. Employees who deviate from the norm within the public broadcaster are confronted with expressions of discrimination, for example on the basis of speech accent, physical or intellectual disability, having a mental health history, physique, social class or age.
• Sexual comments were made that were often directly addressed to a person. The committee gives examples such as ‘your pants are very tight’, ‘do you want to see my carrot?’, ‘have you ever had sex?’, ‘why aren’t you wearing that skirt from last week?’, addressing female colleagues as ‘pussy’ and asking female colleagues ‘who would you rather give a blowjob, me or…?’