Amid CBS Shakeup, Powerful Black Business Leader Appointed to Its Board

Amid CBS Shakeup, Powerful Black Business Leader Appointed to Its Board

The culmination of a legal showdown, internal clashes, threats, and allegations of sexual misconduct against the chief executive has placed CBS Corp. in a firestorm of controversy and national discourse. The shakeup has also resulted in six new board members that include three women and one African American man.

Corporate Crisis

Earlier this week, Leslie Moonves stepped down as chairman and CEO of CBS Corp. amid a cascade of sexual assault allegations published in a series of articles in The New Yorker. CBS chief operating officer Joe Ianniello has been named interim CEO.

Just days after Moonves’s departure, Jeff Fager, the long-time executive producer of 60 Minutes, was fired for reportedly sending a text message threatening CBS reporter Jericka Duncan, who was looking into the allegations against both Moonves and Fager. Fager, however, has denied the allegations. Meanwhile, CBS and National Amusements Inc. recently settled an ongoing legal battle that erupted in May over control of the company.

As the embattled media conglomerate looks to turn the tide, six independent directors were replaced on the company’s 13-member board. One is Richard “Dick” Parsons, former Time Warner chairman and CEO, who joins longtime board member Bruce S. Gordon as the second sitting African American member. Moving forward, these two prominent leaders will be at the helm of helping CBS recover from an onset of scandal.

Richard “Dick” Parsons

(Richard D. Parsons, Former Chairman of Citigroup Inc.)

Parson is a well-rounded leader noted for his sound judgment and vast experience in politics, finance, entertainment, and philanthropy. His illustrious career earned him the February 2002 cover of BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine. He also has a proven track record of driving results at large organizations during times of crisis and change.

“Among the numerous roles of this unflappable leader: Taking the helm of AOL Time Warner as the media giant was reeling from a troubled merger during the height of the dotcom boom; serving as chairman of Citigroup as the financial giant was recovering from the sector’s financial meltdown; lending his expertise to U.S. presidents over the years in tackling dire issues ranging from Social Security reform to job creation during the Great Recession: helping to resurrect the famed Apollo Theater at a time in which it was financially crippled; and assuming the role of  interim CEO  to stabilize the L.A. Clippers NBA franchise during the Donald Sterling scandal,” writes BLACK ENTERPRISE Editor-in-Chief Derek T. Dingle.

Since stepping down as CEO of Time Warner in 2007, Parsons has partnered with former Time Warner Investments head Rachel Lam to create Imagination Capital, an investment firm that provides seed funding for 20 to 25 digital media, e-sports, and big data startups. Parsons was also named on BLACK ENTERPRISE‘s Most Powerful African Americans in Business in 2010.

“Folks looking for leaders in time of change, look for someone who is steady, someone who does not react without reflection,” Parson said recently at the Senior Multicultural Leaders Conference. “They are looking for someone who is confident in making decisions. Another thing is authenticity, a word that hasn’t been vocalized enough, I’ve been in a lot of situations when a bunch of people are looking to you as a leader. Being authentic is the only way you can establish trust. Lastly, never panic. People make the worst decisions when they panic. It doesn’t stop people from doing it. I don’t.”

Bruce S. Gordon

Bruce Gordon (Image: File)

Gordon, who joined CBS’ board of directors in 2006, played an instrumental role in negotiating the larger settlement that included Moonves’s removal, according to The New York Times. “This agreement maintains an independent board that is charged with determining the best course for the future of CBS on behalf of all shareholders,” he said in a statement.

Gordon, along with CBS board member Martha L. Minow, was also responsible for interviewing the board nominees before the larger board endorsed the new appointments, reports The Times.

In addition, Gordon has served in a variety of leadership roles in business and civil rights. He spent most of his career with Verizon and was named as the head of the NAACP in 2005. Along with Parsons, the business exec has been listed on the 2018 BLACK ENTERPRISE Registry of Corporate Directors and was named as the BLACK ENTERPRISE executive of the year in 1998.

As an advocate for equality, Gordon stressed the importance of having diverse talent in leadership positions in an interview with BE last year. “Having an African American at the table means they can influence policy. If we use our voices appropriately, then our communities are the beneficiaries of what we do,” he said. “People need to understand how important this is. Our people in our community should care about that.”