United Way CEO resigns after allegations of sexism and retaliation surface at the nonprofit

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Yelena Dzhanova
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United Way CEO Brian Gallagher.
United Way CEO Brian Gallagher. Nick Wass/AP Images for United Way Worldwide

Brian Gallagher, the CEO of United Way Worldwide, has resigned from his role following allegations of sexism and retaliation at the nonprofit.

Huffington Post and Insider have previously published stories in which former female employees alleged misogynistic behavior and retaliation at United Way, one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the country.

Three women who spoke up about sexual harassment said they faced retaliation for doing so in a November report from HuffPost, and more came forward in an Insider story in December with allegations that the nonprofit's culture of misogyny spanned decades.

Read more: United Way, one of the US's largest nonprofits, has a history of rewarding people who engaged in sexist behavior, former employees say

Former employees previously told Insider that men who engaged in sexist behavior were rewarded in the form of promotions and praise, and that male employees frequently made misogynistic and inappropriate remarks to and about women.

One woman, for example, said a male executive once told her, "We could promote you, but you need to stop having babies."

Juliette Tuakli, chair of United Way Worldwide's board of trustees, confirmed the news of Gallagher's departure in a statement to Insider and said the board will name an interim CEO to lead United Way Worldwide.

"We are grateful for Brian's four decades of leadership and service in the name of the United Way mission. Brian has always said that a great United Way leader is one who puts community interests first, their organization next, and their own interests last," Tuakli said. "Brian embodied that standard."

In an internal email to current United employees viewed by Insider, Gallagher said he had expected to step down this year. But the allegations sped up the process.

"We were actively working toward a transition for me sometime later in 2021 at the conclusion of the CEO search process," Gallagher wrote in the email. "But, I and the board think it's best for United Way if I step down as CEO sooner."

Gallagher had been CEO of United Way Worldwide since 2009. His resignation is effective as soon as March 1, Tuakli said.

Gallagher's resignation comes after a law firm released the results of an investigation into the women's' claims

The news comes just a week after the nonprofit released the results of an investigation spurred by these allegations of sexism and retaliation.

The investigation was carried out by a third-party law firm at the behest of United Way Worldwide. Proskauer Rose LLP, the law firm tasked with investigating the retaliation claims, found "the employment decisions made with respect to the three employees at issue were found to be based on legitimate, non-discriminatory, and non-retaliatory reasons."

But the three women who had reported retaliation told Insider that nobody reached out to them for the investigation, which led them to believe it was inadequate and poorly done.

"On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to underscore our commitment to forging ahead and supporting our shared strategy to shape the United Way of the future, so that we may continue to fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community," Tuakli said in the statement.

Gallagher in his email to current employees announcing his departure dismissed the allegations of sexism and retaliation.

"At United Way Worldwide we dealt with allegations of misconduct. When these allegations were first made, the organization thoroughly investigated them," he wrote.

"Then they were made public," he continued, referring to the HuffPost and Insider reports, "which led to the independent board investigation. In both cases, there was no merit found to any of the allegations. There is no evidence of a toxic or hostile culture. Is there room for improvement? Absolutely, just like almost any other workplace."

"I am proud of my life-long commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. I am equally as proud of the work done in those areas by our team at United Way Worldwide," his email continued. "This entire episode will not diminish United Way Worldwide's commitment to the right of every woman, or any person, to come forward with any concern they might have, and to be heard and protected in that process."

Read the original article on Business Insider