by Jocelyn Noveck | The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Confusion about purpose and mission. Lack of focus on long term goals. Ineffective communication internally and externally. Lack of accountability to top executives, especially the CEO. Very politically partisan, and also aligned with Hollywood.
These are some of the issues raised in a report commissioned by Time’s Up and released Friday — in the name of transparency — as the advocacy group promised a “major reset,” including the termination of most employees. It comes three months after a damaging scandal forced Chief Executive Tina Ten to go on the disclosure that the group’s leaders had advised the former New York government. Andrew Cuomo’s administration was first accused of sexual assault last year.
“We’re going down to the studs,” said Ashley Judd, one of the group’s most visible members and a key early voice in the wider #MeToo movement, in an interview.
“We’re going to rebuild and reset and get back to a way that respects our mandate, incorporates the voices of our critics, learns from our findings … and holds ourselves accountable. Lives up to capacity.”
Judd and Monifa Bandele, interim leaders since September, spoke to the Associated Press ahead of the report’s release, which coincides with a major employee turmoil. Most of the staff of 25 people were informed on Friday that they were being laid off at the end of the year, with a skeleton crew of three remaining. Four members of the board, including Judd, will remain on as the organization decides its next steps and chooses leadership. Bandel is getting down.
Both women stressed that Time’s Up is vitally important as an advocacy group for women. Bandele, who says she made the decision herself not to seek a permanent CEO role for now, said that “even those who have the toughest, toughest critics say, ‘We have to Time’s up is also needed. Time’s up is going to play an important role in our movement.….I didn’t see any ‘Burn it all down’.
And Judd offered an emotional defense of the organization, saying she felt “as active and committed today” as she did when Time’s Up launched in the wake of allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, over which she herself sexually assaulted her. was accused of harassment. “The need for fair, safe, respectful workplaces for all types of women is still urgent.”
Describing the group’s relevance, Judd told an anecdote about how a visiting producer came to him on a film and mentioned a film he had worked on years earlier. “I should have had you when I got the chance,” he said, in front of the entire crew and his wife. Judd did not identify the producer.
Judd said she knew she was harassed, and looked to SAG, the Screen Actors Guild’s home page, for help. “There was no help for me. And today, because of Time’s Up, I have a sexual harassment hotline on my union membership card.”
“All our norms have changed,” Judd said. “No more meetings in hotel rooms. No more meetings before and after standard working hours. The intimacy coordinator on set, and you can take a friend with you to audition for security. They are tremendous advancements in our industry. ,
Time’s Up was formed nearly four years ago by a group of high-profile Hollywood women – producers, agents, movie stars – eager to build on momentum from the Weinstein scandal and fight sexual harassment in their own industry and beyond. Were.
The group promised to be a voice for women of all walks of life, but it has been plagued by criticism – from outside, and also from within – that it was too involved with Hollywood and less attentive to the needs of others. Was. When Bandele took over interim leadership, he pledged that the group would ask itself: “What are our conflicts of interest, what are our guardrails?”
The release of the report, authored by independent consultant Leilani M. Brown and first reported by The Washington Post, forms the first phase of the group’s reset; The next phase, Bandele said, is strategic planning, and a final phase will be implementation. The report was compiled over a period of two months; About 200 people were contacted and 85 agreed to the interview, including current and former employees and stakeholders.
“This is a necessary reset, not a retreat,” board chairman Gabrielle Sulzberger said in a statement. “It is up to us to learn from these findings, and to focus on building an organization that serves powerful women of all types and ends the exemption of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.”
Already, Bandele said, the report has been “successful in that we’ve actually demonstrated transparency and openness in a way that’s vulnerable. And therefore feels good. Plus, it’s bitter.”
—There was internal confusion about the purpose and mission, which was “largely undefined for some time.” Partly this was because the organization had grown so rapidly, the report said, overnight ‘from jet plane to rocket ship’.
Leaders were often viewed as pursuing short-term goals rather than a long-term strategic vision.
-Communication was “inconsistent and fragmented”. Some members were disappointed to hear from the media about allegations related to the Cuomo case, not Time’s Up itself. (Techen’s August 26 resignation followed the earlier departure of the organization’s president, Roberta Kaplan. Both women had angered Time’s Up supporters at the idea that they had offered Cuomo any help, and Techen started In the U.S., other Time’s Up leaders were discouraged from commenting publicly. One of his accusers, Lindsay Boylan, resigned on August 10 amid allegations of harassment.)
The group appeared politically partisan. The report cited members who felt Time’s Up had been damaged by ties to Democratic Party leaders (Chen was once Michelle Obama’s chief of staff). The organization was accused of not supporting Tara Reade, who accused now-president Joe Biden of assaulting her in the 1990s – a charge she has vehemently denied. And Cuomo ties criticized that the group’s dealings with the governor smacks of political partisanship.
Bandele said in interviews that the Cuomo episode would have landed differently if the group’s structure had been stronger. “The Cuomo crisis was critical of where we are now,” Bandele said. “But if the structure inside… was stronger, if there was stronger transparency in communications and processes, then what happened to Cuomo is (less) likely to happen. It won’t have the same detrimental effect on the U.S. because we’ll have a lot more trust within the community.”
Now the question is how will the group rebuild that trust.
“All organizations make mistakes,” argued Bandele. “So we’ll make mistakes too. But it’s not the nail in the coffin… it’s not our end. The point is, we have to come back strong.”
The group did not specify a timeline for its next steps. Judd said it would be worth the wait.
“What we are going to reveal is an organization that has unity of purpose and will be inclusive, and will amplify the voices of women of all types,” she said. “We are so excited to be able to share this with the world.”
As far as herself is concerned, she said, “I am still here because I know how much society needs Time’s Up. The mandate is bigger and more important than our mistakes. And we will persevere and be of service.” “