Women and minorities feel excluded from the "good old boy" network and the "cut-throat and extremely political culture" at AOL, a report commissioned by the company finds.
Besides a shortage of women and minorities in senior positions, the report found that many employees feel intimidated and demoralized by the Friday afternoon beer bashes at the company's Dulles, Va., campus.
"It's a lot of standing around, guys talking about where they used to go out 10 years ago. It's like being in a bar," The Washington Post quoted one woman employee as telling the consultants.
Increasingly, AOL's internal dialogue is an extended sports metaphor, some employees said. "Win every week, play your position," is the mantra dished out daily by top managers, they said.
Employees also complained that the company tends to blur the line between work and home life. Employees who call in sick are expected to be available by e-mail and to respond to supervisors' requests promptly, they complained.
The report was commissioned by the company earlier this year after a flurry of complaints about the treatment of women and minority employees. It was conducted by consultants who interviewed a representative sampling of employees in various job categories, using 13 focus groups and follow-up telephone interviews.