Andi Dorfman would like to see more diversity in the Bachelor franchise.
The former Bachelorette star thinks the franchise has "dropped the ball" when it comes to its response in the aftermath of host Chris Harrison's defense of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell's racist actions during an interview with Rachel Lindsay.
"I don't know how you let somebody like Rachel Lindsay get bullied off her own social media account without stepping in and saying things earlier," Dorfman, 33, said during an interview with Entertainment Tonight on Friday. "I don't know how you kind of hide behind all of that. [When] your cast and your contestants are the ones that are having to come together without you, where is the franchise in all of this?"
Last week, The Bachelorette's first Black lead deactivated her Instagram account due to the harassment she's received amid the ongoing controversy about how racism has been addressed within the Bachelor franchise.
Getty Images (2) Chris Harrison (L); Rachel Lindsay
On Monday, the show's producers released a statement condemning the harassment against Lindsay online, saying it was "completely inexcusable" and "rooted in racism."
"You are seeing the cast and the contestants all come together on social media and support one another, but you are not seeing ABC, Bachelor or Bachelorette support anybody," Dorfman continued to Entertainment Tonight. "I think they're scared. I think the franchise is scared."
The reality star added that while she has seen the franchise make some improvements over the past few years — especially when it comes to diversifying its cast members — she thinks that it has a long way to go toward diversity and inclusion behind the cameras.
"A lot of the work honestly starts within Bachelor franchise," she explained. "You're seeing a lot of diverse cast [members], of course. Like, we're seeing probably the most diverse cast we've ever seen this past season and everyone wants to see that to continue to grow. But my question is, what's happening internally? The people that are sitting around the table, making the big decisions, is there diversity there? Is there diversity in the casting department? In editing?"
"Instead of just kind of throwing it all to the contestants, I would love to see the diversity happen within the network, within the production, within the people that are making those decisions," she continued.
"Honestly, I would love to have a sit-down with people who are high up, that work inside, that make the decisions. To be honest, I feel like we've never gotten that opportunity. We come on a season and then we're off, and it's off to the next. Yes, we get provided a platform to do things, but there's never really been that open dialogue. I would love to challenge them, to be able to have that [opportunity]."
A representative for ABC and The Bachelor did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
On Thursday, Harrison appeared on Good Morning America and said it was a "mistake" to defend Kirkconnell after social media posts resurfaced that her dressed in Native American attire as a costume and attending an antebellum plantation-themed college party in 2018. Kirkconnell has since apologized.
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"It was a mistake, I made a mistake," Harrison, 49, said on GMA. "I am an imperfect man, I made a mistake, and I own that."
While many former and current contestants from the franchise have called on Harrison to step down from his role as host, he said on Thursday that he plans to remain.
"I am not a victim here, I made a mistake and I own that. Racism, oppression, this is a dynamic problem and they take work and I am committed to that work," he said.