iHeartMedia is discriminating against white people and violating the Civil Rights Act by implementing a “minorities only” hiring policy.
In mid-June, a range of sources began claiming that one of the largest media companies in the U.S., iHeartMedia, had announced that they were only hiring diverse employees. One post claimed that they had implemented a minority only hiring policy
Later, further updates appeared. claiming that the organization had rushed to change this policy after iHeartMedia had received condemnation online for violating the Civil Rights Act.
On social media, posts highlighting the initial claim managed to gain thousands of interactions. Posts claiming that iHeartMedia had rushed to backpedal the policy also gained over 1,000 interactions.
Misbar’s investigation concludes that it is incorrect to state that iHeartMedia's hiring goals were ever discriminatory. They stated that diversity is important in their hiring practice, and diversity objectively means a variety of backgrounds, not excluding anyone.
According to the reports that made the claim, the origin of this story came from an email from an executive producer at iHeartMedia. This email was sent to a listserv for people interested in working in radio in New York City. One sentence in this email states the following:
“Diversity is incredibly important for our team and our company so we are looking at only diverse hires at this time.”
The email also contained a link to the job post. This job post contains no reference to a diverse hires-only policy. Instead, it contains text that claims the opposite. At the very end of the job post, a paragraph states that iHeartMedia is an equal opportunity employer that does not tolerate discrimination.
Additionally, the executive producer who sent the initial email then messaged the reporter of this story, clarifying what she had intended to state in her email. She said the following: “I made an error in language in my last note, so I just want to clarify, ALL are welcome to apply and we will consider ALL qualified candidates. That being said, in our efforts to elevate diverse voices in the predominately white podcast space, we strongly encourage engineers/editors of color--regardless of gender and sexual orientation-- to apply.”
Essentially, this reveals that the executive producer intended to state that diverse people were encouraged to apply, not that the company was only including minorities. This mix-up in language led some to interpret that iHeartMedia was excluding white people from applying.
A publicly available document from iHeartMedia that affirms that it does not discriminate in employment is a recent ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) report. This document makes it clear that the organization has a corporate culture of inclusion that aims to respect everyone. It also makes it clear that the company is seeking to diversify its podcast content. It is likely that the executive producer, who works in the podcast department of the company, misinterpreted this diversity policy in her initial email by stating that the company was “only” hiring diverse people, when instead, the policy is to diversify.
Many of the initial news stories took the wording of one email from a single employee and implied that it reflected companywide policy. However, the careers page of iHeartRadio also makes it clear that the company is an equal opportunity employer. The opening paragraph of this page states that its mission is to empower employees of all backgrounds. At the end of this page, it reiterates that the company does not discriminate based on race. Similarly, it is inaccurate to suggest that the company rushed to change its policy. Instead, the employee made a statement saying that she had poorly reflected iHeartMedia’s diversity policy in her email.
iHeartMedia employs over 14,000 individuals. With this number of employees, it is impossible for the organization to ensure that the content of every team member's email reflects company policy 100% of the time.