Ann Curry on Diversity, Workplace Harassment and Why HR Doesn’t Work

Ann Curry spoke out on workplace harassment and what can be done to change the culture that has allowed the behavior to continue for decades. The former TODAY host and award-winning NBC News journalist sat down for a candid conversation with Variety co-editor-in-chief Claudia Eller and “Chasing the Cure” executive producer and showrunner Kim Bondy at Variety’s Inclusion Diversity & Hollywood Summit at 1 Hotel West Hollywood on Thursday.

During the conversation, Eller asked Curry about reporting alleged inappropriate behavior by her former colleague and TODAY co-host Matt Lauer to NBC. Curry’s immediate response at hearing the name — “Who??”— got a big reaction from the audience before she went on to answer the question.

“I don’t speculate. And I don’t have the facts,” Curry said when pressed about why she thought nothing was done about Lauer’s alleged behavior at the time she reported it. “So, I don’t know.”

When Eller asked how she felt about the lack of action from NBC regarding her concerns, Curry replied, “It’s not about how I feel, it’s about how the victims feel.”

After round of applause of the audience, Curry went on to explain that workplace harassment is a problem in all industries in the U.S., not just in journalism or entertainment: “We need to understand that the kind of pain that some of these victims experience is on the level of trauma that is described as PTSD, sometimes for the rest of their lives.”

The trio also discussed how the careers of victims have been derailed by standing up and speaking out about harassment in the workplace or how whistleblowers are often labeled as “troublemakers.”

For Curry, the next step is figuring out how to create safe and inclusive environments so that future generations don’t have to be concerned about workplace harassment and other “unacceptable” behaviors.

“What we have in place doesn’t work. HR – sorry – doesn’t work. What you’re doing is not enough” Curry said frankly. “The question I would ask as a reporter is ‘Can we expect that corporate America can answer this problem on its own?’”

Though Curry acknowledges that the current system isn’t working, she remains hopeful for future generations. One way Curry hopes to promote healthier work environments moving forward is to prioritize diversity in her own work. She also shared that the project is “strikingly diverse” both behind the scenes and on screen, boasting a nearly 50-50 gender split in staff.

“I’m having a whole heck of a lot of fun,” Curry said of her return to TV with “Chasing the Cure,” which she executive produces and hosts. The new series is a multi-platform experience focused on helping those who have been medically misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all find a “cure” in the form of a correct diagnosis, some sort of pain relief or, at the very least, compassion.

“Chasing the Cure” debuts on July 25th on TBS and TNT.

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