It’s not just that Ghomeshi was a sexual harasser, it’s that management worked so hard to protect him from the consequences of his actions. The account by Kathryn Borel is damning — Ghomeshi didn’t rape her, he just made incessant, crude advances in the office, to the point where Borel was desperate for the administrators at CBC to step in and take action, and they didn’t.
…there were the uninvited back massages at my desk to which it was clear I couldn’t say no, during which my host’s hands would slide down just a little too close to the tops of my breasts. A year into my time on the job, he grabbed my rear end and claimed he couldn’t control himself because of my skirt. Occasionally my host would stand in the doorway of his office when no one was around and slowly undo his shirt by two or three buttons while staring at me, grinning. He once grabbed my waist from behind – in front of our fellow colleague, at the office – and proceeded to repeatedly thrust his crotch into my backside. There was emotional abuse, too: gaslighting and psychological games that undermined my intelligence, security and sense of self. Sometimes that hit harder than the physical trespassing.
No responsible HR person in the world would look the other way at that kind of behavior. The CBC did nothing.
In 2010, I went to my union to try and find a way to end this pattern of sexual harassment by Jian Ghomeshi. I had no intention to sue, or to get him fired, or even to have him reprimanded. I just needed him to stop. The union representative and my executive producer at Q, the radio show for which we worked, did nothing.
And it looks like the CBC hasn’t learned anything at all from this episode.
While I’ve had good, transparent conversations in the last few weeks with CBC human resources and the third-party investigator looking into management’s actions, I am increasingly convinced that little will change. The key players who protected Ghomeshi for so long are now seemingly now using those skills to protect themselves.
But the system that obsessively propped up Jian Ghomeshi needs to change. He is one disgusting man – but our public broadcaster, demoralized over long-running budget cuts and criticisms that it was out of touch with the public and its younger listeners, latched onto him as their savior and clearly didn’t want to let go. The CBC allowed a two-tier workplace to emerge, in which Ghomeshi didn’t have to comply with either the law or workplace norms as long as he kept pulling in listeners, and workers like me only had job security so long as we accepted his abuses of authority. I was essentially forced to either leave the show or allow my boss to lay his hands on my body at his pleasure. But since then, no manager or executive who was complicit in creating or maintaining a workplace in which Ghomeshi was allowed to operate with impunity has lost his job, let alone apologized.
It’s not an isolated few bad guys, it’s the whole system that’s broken and contrives to enable people like Ghomeshi.