Time’s Up CEO Exits as Most of Staff Laid Off: ‘This Is a Needed Reset, Not a Retreat’

Time’s Up, arguably the most visible advocacy group dedicated to fostering a safe workplace for women in Hollywood, will undergo a major “reset” of its personnel in the hopes of rehabilitating the scandal-marred organization.

Just two months after erstwhile CEO Tina Tchen resigned, interim president and CEO Monifa Bandele will step down, as a small transition team and board will oversee the process. According to a press release, “the structure, strategy, and staff of the group will be rebuilt from the ground up.” In other words, most of the group’s staff (including some two dozen workers) have been laid off.

“This is a needed reset, not a retreat,” said board chair Gabrielle Sulzberger in a statement to media. “TIME’S UP stands for accountability and systematic change in the workplace. It is incumbent on us to learn from these findings, and focus on building an organization that powerfully serves women of all kinds and ends the impunity of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.”

The reset plan was presented to staff on Friday afternoon, with current programmatic operations at Time’s Up ending on January 1 of the new year. Departing staff, according to the group, will receive severance pay through March 1.

“We persevere. We will not lose the ground gained for women’s equality and safety over these last several years,” Bandele added. “Our movement and the stakes for our entire society and future generations are so much bigger than one organization or title. We will continue to make significant contributions, both through work led by TIME’S UP and beyond.”

Time’s Up initially formed in response to the wave of sexual assault and harassment allegations to come out of Hollywood after the Harvey Weinstein reveal. But some would argue that its message and mission and have changed. Back in August, board chair Roberta Kaplan stepped down amid scandal over advising former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Per a State Attorney General report, Kaplan consulted on a draft letter from Cuomo to one of his sexual-harassment accusers.

Back in August, sexual assault survivor Alison Turkos posted an open letter, signed by a number former Time’s Up clients and employees, decrying Time’s Up and stating that the organization is “failing the survivor community.” “TIME’S UP has abandoned the very people it was supposed to champion. The board continues to fail to heed the outcry from survivors,” the letter, which was posted in the wake of the Kaplan controversy, read.

Earlier this year, Eva Longoria, Shonda Rhimes, and Jurnee Smollett also exited its board.

IndieWire recently spoke to Martha Lauzen, the founder and executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, about the change (or lack thereof) in Hollywood following the formation of Time’s Up.

“This is a marathon, it’s not a sprint,” Lauzen said. “Time’s Up were very good [at the beginning] because they had a lot of money and a lot of celebrity. They were really good at getting a lot of attention and focusing a lot of attention on the issue in the short term. But in the long term, it’s kind of a different game.”

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