Less than three weeks ago, I wrote to you about an investigation being conducted of serious allegations of a hostile work environment, nepotism and other concerns at United Way of Summit & Medina. At that time, I pledged to be as transparent as possible and to share updated information about the investigation as soon as possible.
We now can report on the findings of independent investigator Sindy Warren of Warren & Associates and how we are acting on those findings.
The report states that after 30 witness interviews and the review of many documents (hundreds of pages of HR records), Ms. Warren was left “with a clear impression of the passion and dedication that Mr. Mullen has brought and continues to bring to United Way … Mr. Mullen has led United Way through a period of extraordinary and difficult change and has a level of support from current staff members that I have not seen in my almost two decades of conducting workplace investigations … I conclude that the characterizations of the workplace culture do not accurately represent the culture and climate at United Way.”
Jim and his team have been an incredible asset to our organization and our Board looks forward to their continued leadership as we move forward in this our next stage of growth and development.
While the independent investigator found that most of the allegations could not be substantiated and she cited the progress we’ve made as an organization and in the community, we recognize that this process, as trying and difficult as it has been, brought into sharper focus some areas where we must continue to improve. For that, we thank the former and current employees who brought these matters to our attention.
As a result, based on the investigator’s report, the Board is committing to these action steps:
- The Organizational Development Committee will discuss with UW leadership what additional resources may be needed to respond to staff issues and concerns based upon the continued growth of the organization and to ensure successful execution of best practices of all areas of Human Resources. This includes but is not limited to the exit interview process, and any/all employee concerns.
- The Organizational Development Committee will request a report summary of all employee complaints delivered to Human Resources, verbal and written, and any responsive action on no less than a quarterly basis and will engage the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion regarding matters of any alleged discrimination.
- The Board Executive Committee will draft a policy specifying that any United Way employee with any issue or concern may, in addition to the other measures set forth in the Employee Handbook, contact the Chair of the Board Organizational Development Committee or Chair of the Board on a confidential basis. Such policy will be included in the Employee Handbook and be conspicuously posted in public areas of all United Way facilities.
- No later than Sept. 30, the Board will retain an outside consultant to conduct a review of United Way hiring practices, including internal job posting process and procedures. This third-party review will also include a survey of training and development needs of all staff, including senior leadership, to ensure the organization is effectively positioned to promote a successful work environment focused on the development needs and career goals of staff.
- At United Way’s expense, an executive coach will be made available to the senior leadership team. Areas of focus will include team communications, effective change management protocols and collaborative workplace culture, as well as other topics as determined by the Board and team members. The coach will include periodic interaction with the organization to assess progress and provide feedback to the UWSM Board. The Board will require updates from the executive coach to be shared with the Chair of the Organizational Development Committee, and Chair of the Board, at least every 6 months.
- The Board will work with senior leadership to host “open house” style meetings with all levels of staffing every six months to identify areas of issue and concern as well as topics that can help the organization grow, develop and/or mature. Feedback from these meetings will be shared with the Organizational Development Committee.
I want to personally thank Sindy Warren for her thorough work conducting this investigation, and I thank everyone who cooperated with her inquiry, especially our current and former employees. It takes great courage to stand up, speak up and do the right thing.
The report makes it very clear that everyone who participated, be they senior leadership, board members, current staff or former employees, are passionate about the work of UWSM and its positive impact and care deeply about our mission and commitment to the communities we serve.
The Board is steadfast in its belief that our senior leadership team and staff will learn from this, continue to improve and move forward.
In my original letter to you, I wrote that once this investigation was completed we intended to meet any challenges arising from it. That work has begun, and I now know more firmly than ever that, with your continued generous support, we will become even more successful at meeting our mission, doing the right things the right way and making an incredible difference for the communities we’re honored to serve.
With every best wish,
Chair of the Board
United Way of Summit and Medina