Staff Fumes, Ashley Judd cries as Time’s Up Pink slips almost everyone

Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

The vast majority of Time out‘s remaining employees were fired Friday in what they described as a debacle that began with executives revealing that they gave the news to Washington Post first and ended with board member Ashley Judd breaking down in tears.

That combated organization, who limped since its CEO and the entire board resigned this summer, announced Friday that it would lay off the vast majority of its remaining staff. Management informed staff about the decision at a virtual meeting that started 15 minutes before Post Article made the pink notes national news.

“They said during the call: ‘The Washington Post publishing a piece right now, “said Stacey Ferguson, Time’s Digital Director.” Some staff members said, ‘Oh god, my mom will read about it before I can tell her’. “

“To paraphrase what a colleague shared in the call: For an organization that is supposed to advocate for fair and dignified jobs, it feels like the opposite of that,” Ferguson added.

Insiders say #MeToo Powerhouse Time’s Up has been lost

In a statement, the board called the layoffs a “major reset” needed to rectify the ship following the events of the past year. Several businesses reported over the summer that the leaders of Time’s Up – which was set up in response to the #MeToo movement – had advised then-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on how to respond to allegations of sexual harassment against him and had degraded his accusations in text messages.

Both CEOs Tina Tchen and Chairman of the Board Roberta Kaplan resigned in August, appointed former CFO Monifa Bandele as interim CEO and started the process of hiring consultant Leilani Brown to conduct an independent review. Brown’s report, which was also released Friday, found a lack of discipline, loss of confidence and “oversized expectations without a solid foundation to grow on.”

In a statement announcing the dismissals and the results of the report, board chair Gabrielle Sulzberger called them “a necessary reset, not a withdrawal.”

“TIME’S UP stands for accountability and systematic change in the workplace,” she said. “It is up to us to learn from these results and focus on building an organization that powerfully serves women of all kinds and stops impunity for sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace.”

<div klasse="inline-image__caption">
<p>Gabrielle Sulzberger</p>
<div class="inline-image__kredit">Bryan Bedder / Getty</div>
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Gabrielle Sulzberger

Bryan Bedder / Getty

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Employees who spoke to The Daily Beast said they were confused as to why this “reset” required all employees on the ground to be laid off, while three of the organization’s highest-ranking members – its chief financial officer, development chief, and entertainment chief – would be by to “rebuild”.

“Most of us were not in the leadership team when the Cuomo thing happened, yet it is us who are being punished for past actions in the organization,” said an employee who asked to remain anonymous.

“Again, Time’s Up puts the interests of the organization above its own employees,” she added. “We’ve obviously been sidelined by all this.”

Employees said they learned their fate in a Zoom call at 6 p.m. 1 p.m., primarily led by Sulzberger and board member Judd. The two asked questions about why Washington Post had been told about the decision before the employees and why the employees would only receive two months’ resignation during a global pandemic – something an employee described to The Daily Beast as “a slap in the face.” (A Time’s Up spokesman told The Daily Beast that the resignation package was “generous” for a small nonprofit organization.)

At one point, an employee said, Judd began to cry, saying she was “heartbroken” over the news.

“Remember, she’s already issued a statement [to the Washington Post] with information that staff did not have access to, ”said staff. “Then keep your damn crocodile tears.”

Revealed: Time’s Up staff warned of major memo issues long before implosion

The Time’s Up spokesman told The Daily Beast that the organization decided to work with Post because the newspaper had already received some details about the report and they wanted to make sure that the resulting article drew a complete picture. He added that the layoffs were necessary to ensure that the organization’s work on behalf of survivors could continue, but declined to say when its programmatic work – which will be suspended on January 1, when the current staff leaves – will resume.

The Daily Beast previously reported on the breaches of the organization, which started with great fanfare in 2018. Employees at the time described an organization that was more committed to its wealthy and powerful backers than it was to survivors, and that embraced a stifling, top-down leadership style. Employees claimed they had been forced to remove images of Cuomo critics from their website and tweet praiseworthy things about his office’s work; others said they were forced to drop everything and launch a petition in support of Gayle King when the celebrity was harassed online. A survivor that the group had originally backed asked to have her name removed from a Daily Beast article in April after a Time’s Up boss slammed her for joining.

<div klasse="inline-image__caption">
<p>Tina Tchen resigned as CEO of Time’s Up earlier this year.</p>
<div class="inline-image__kredit">Jemal Countess / Getty</div>
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Tina Tchen resigned as CEO of Time’s Up earlier this year.

Jemal Countess / Getty

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Tina Tchen resigned as CEO of Time’s Up earlier this year.

Jemal Countess / Getty

Ferguson, who has been with the organization for just over a year, said she remained on the staff despite these negative reports because she believed the organization could change. But even before the layoffs were announced, she said, she had already lost that hope.

“Imagine getting to work every day and wanting to do the right things – the good things – but you will be hindered by bureaucracy and culture and this strange, super-heavy, top-down way of leading,” she said.

“The 25 employees are amazing and the 12 people who resigned since I started a year ago are amazing and that’s the crying shame,” she added.

An employee described Friday’s layoffs as a “failure” for staff and the movement as a whole.

Asked what she would tell the organization’s leadership, she said: “I want to make it very, very clear that they should be ashamed that this is an embarrassment and a defilement of all that this movement is for. And I would love knowing how to sleep at night and keep their employees in the dark. “

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