Thursday, February 20, 2020

When Can Their Voice Be Heard?

Career Damaging

Three women three different professions one American dream believing inequality, justice, and hard work will result in success. This dream quickly extinguished all by different executive governing boards, never given an opportunity to share their side of the story or to fight for their careers. Deborah Dugan, CEO of the recording academy, placed on leave after filing a 44-page complaint. The Recording Academy is currently locked in a vicious battle against its former president and CEO Deborah Dugan, who had led the organization for not quite half a year before being placed on administrative leave on Jan. 16.
Courtesy of Billboard,
Since then, accusations of harassment, corruption, and conflict of interest have whizzed back and forth, with the rancor seemingly only escalating by the day. On Jan. 21, Dugan filed a 44-page complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accusing the Academy of retaliation and voting irregularities; in a public statement, the Academy accused Dugan of being “abusive and bullying.” "Just not a boys club", Deborah was the first female CEO in 62 years. Under the guise of a work dinner was who was propositioned by a high powered attorney. It started with calling her babe, comments about her prettiness, a kiss, and it was clear it was a power setting mood. All along she had brought up, filing a formal complaint, then placed in administrative leave. After the complaint with the same law firm that represented Harvey Weinstein, she was placed on administrative leave. Allegations for a "toxic work condition" made by the former CEO's executive assistant was made. Interesting complaint on the heels of the successful CEO, who had moved across the country, believing in the academy, and needed an executive assistant who she could trust and do the work she needed to do. Two key individuals in an organization are the legal counsel and the executive assistant. These positions must be trusted professionals for the CEO to be successful and clearly, these individuals were not supportive of her vision. After a successful career with eight years at EMI, eight years at Disney, and eight years at Bono raising millions of dollars to eradicate AIDS she finds herself fighting for her name, her career, and her professionalism all at the whim of an executive board that have limited knowledge of the complexities involved in the organization. In fact, it was Deborah that informed the board that the former CEO had a previous rape allegation. This information had not been brought to the board, and Deborah knew the system needed to be changed. Her desire for significant change with transparency and conflict of interests addressed because of what she witnessed during her tenure. Her positivity toward the mission of the district, the artists, the music, and many of the team and board members illustrates her professionalism and competence as a leader. She continues to be a champion for the artists and the music while the recording academy board grapples with the complaint and tries to make sense of attorney advice. Let's examine Liz Gilbert, a shining political advocate, who was fired from her position of President for the Local Host Committee for the National Democratic Convention. She was informed of a complaint from a toxic work environment and immediately sent the complaint to her executive board. Within two days, she and her chief of staff were put on leave and fired within days. Liz was never interviewed or given an opportunity to share any insight. Now, she is embattled with attorneys for the local host committee board.
Courtesy of WUMW,

Fighting for her career and next steps, Gilbert grapples with the justice and equality for her voice, her professionalism and an opportunity to respond to allegations. The third, Tracy Davis, superintendent for Washoe District in Reno, who was accused of leaking confidential information and only given 20 minutes in front of her board to defend this allegation, later fired in a 4-1 vote by the governing board. She was a shining star in the world of superintendents, respected for her passion and knowledge for social-emotional well being. In fact, just six months prior she was given national recognition from the national School Superintendents Association, AASA, for the Dr. Effie H. Jones Humanitarian Award, which is given to national leaders who champion equity and excellence in education.


Call to Action

Isn't it time to stop, question the role of these boards, and make changes to prevent more successful, professional women from the cruelty of these devastating career blows?

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

On a Mission or Omission?

Bias by Omission

When you type in the following search, “superintendent/ CEO resigns”, an interesting narrative begins to form.  Time after time you read about governing boards taking control of the organization because of bad administrators, corrupt superintendents, and CEOs, and unprepared professionals.  This action becomes a media frenzy and the number of media bias begins to only tell a pie slice of the story. 

Our world is complex and even more so when bound by legal agreements made between attorneys who have no interest in the two parties.  Their care:  having their name written on the paychecks to preserve what each party thought is the “right” way.  Whether it is pride, egos, power, ignorance, or possibly the core of an antiquated system in our sophisticated world, it is destroying professionals, creating greater divisions among colleagues, and families are damaged by uniformed conversations and gossip.  Who suffers, we all do. 

Let’s take Deborah Dugan, former CEO of the Recording Academy, now tarnished by the executive board's decision to “fire” her without any arbitration or opportunity to solve and protect the heart of the organization.  Then there is Liz Gilbert, a shining political advocate, “fired” by a volunteer appointed board without the opportunity to ever provide information in an investigation that resulted in a career-damaging act.  What about Lexi Cunningham, career superintendent,, Courtesy of Salt Lake School District, Superintendent Resigns, Board Ask to Fire 16 Principals
who was asked to fire professional educators because members of the board didn’t like them?  A shining career again damaged by a board rivalry and inability to allow professionals to do their job and not just be a “Yes” man.

Where is the American Dream for these women?  For their life, they have been told that with hard work, education, building teams that do the work of the organization that they will be protected from the harassment and grief caused by these damaging acts. 

Governing Board Preparation

Where is the preparation for these boards? The board, a group of volunteers without training prior to election or appointment, is given the ability to change the course of strategic goals without a full understanding of their roles.  They are to govern and provide oversight of the budget and policies, not act as a hammer to crush organizations and individuals who have served.  How is it then that when this long list of superintendents/ executives are being backed into the wall to only have to resign from positions that champion the mission of the organization that there is no story about all the complexities and accomplishments?  It is because we are not demanding the other side.  Our nation is at risk of losing our entrepreneurial spirit because of the rose-colored glasses we have put on to ignore this atrocity.  Children, employees, businesses, are being decimated because of this 18th century model of boards without any expertise.