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Undone by a culture of toxicity

Valuing growth over all can make any workplace, even a nonprofit, susceptible to a toxic culture.

2 min read




One of the top charitable foundations in the US is dealing with the exposure of regular bullying, harassment and emotional abuse by a top executive, as well as what is overall a toxic culture.

There were red flags about the toxic nature of the foundation’s culture everywhere you looked. Formal complaints about this woman’s behavior were made to HR but, according to numerous former and current employees, the executive director did nothing. At least one lawsuit was filed against this woman. It was settled out of court.

Turnover at all levels was significant. The foundation notes that 73 people — out of 140 total employees — have left since January 2016.

On Glassdoor, the foundation earns only a 1.9 score on a five-point scale. Only 14% of employees recommend the company, and only 26% approve of the CEO.

How did these executives miss these flags? The complaints were frequent and noted consistent bad behavior. The organization’s values are honorable, yet it is obvious that this woman didn’t demonstrate the company’s values daily. “Integrity,” “inclusiveness,” and “respect” were not words employees used to describe the way she treated others.

The executive director valued growth, and he got it, yet at significant human cost.

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