Almost half of the employees at DoSomething.org walked out this morning demanding that CEO Aria Finger resign. The work stoppage comes weeks after the board of directors reinstated her subsequent to an investigation into allegations against executive leadership about work culture and abusive treatment.
A message to DoSomething.org’s press team was not returned by posting.
Using the hashtag #DoSomethingDidNothing and #DSWalkout, employees at the at the New York City-based nonprofit focused on youth activism followed in the footsteps of staff at Crisis Text Line (CTL), who staged a similar protest in June regarding claims of a hostile work environment around bullying and racism under Founder and CEO Nancy Lublin, who was ousted shortly thereafter. Lublin also founded DoSomething.org and left the organization to run the spinoff Crisis Text Line, created in 2015. Finger, the former chief operating officer under Lublin, succeeded her as CEO.
Finger took a leave of absence in June and returned as CEO about two months later, “with the unanimous approval of the board.”
A Twitter account, @DoSomethingEquity, posted a statement this morning, calling on Finger to resign and outlining allegation as reasons for the demand. Other Twitter accounts identified as DoSomething.org employees Tweeted support for the walkout. The statement read, in part: “We have patiently participated in and awaited the results of an investigation with the hope that this would be the start of a serious effort to address discrimination, anti-Blackness, microaggressions, tokenism, and unequitable practices at DoSomething. The events that have taken place over the past 8 weeks, and especially in the past few days, have exposed that you, Aria, and the DoSomething Board of Directors are not putting us on a path to address these concerns.”
A second letter was signed by employees older than 25 — described as “old people” on staff at DoSomething.org — standing in solidarity with younger colleagues until their demand of Finger’s resignation is met.
An employee confirmed that 24 of the 50 staff members, not including executive team, participated in the walkout. They have not received a response from the board or management as of late this afternoon so they don’t plan to return to work on Wednesday.
My name is Tej. I’m the Civic Action Lead @dosomething. I lead the team that’s registered 130k+ young voters this year. Today I’m walking out of work, demanding the resignation of @ariaIrene. #DoSomethingDidNothing 1/33
— Tej Gokhale (@tejmgo) September 8, 2020
In a 33-Tweet Twitter thread, Tej Gokhale describes himself as a Civic Action Lead at DoSomething.org and recounts several alleged incidents in his three years working at the organization. Among the allegation are being sexually assaulted as a 19-year-old by a fellow employee on a staff retreat in 2018 and a manager proposing afternoon shots of liquor to “reset” their relationship despite being underage.
“I shared all of this and more with the DS lawyers when they were investigating the past 8 weeks. I corroborated stories of Black women using a janitorial closet as a safe space. Stories of Black colleagues who were gaslit and tokenized systematically. The Board refused to release an anonymized version of the report, summarizing the findings as ‘culture issues’ within the organization, with respect to professionalism, staffing, and inclusion.”
The board’s statement last month reinstating Finger included initial changes, such as regular meetings between the Employee Resource Groups and the board; hiring a dedicated HR professional with meaningful diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) experience to focus on establishing clear channels for reporting and addressing employee concerns, codifying sharing equitable pay and promotion practices, and overseeing establishment of new employee development programs for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC).
“They say there was nothing the lawyers found that proved @ariaIrene [Finger] should not be CEO. I hope you see just how wrong that is,” Gokhale, who identifies as BIPOC, said via Twitter. Employees have given Finger “constant feedback that isn’t acted upon” and that “trust was lost a long time ago,” he added. “We have tried to work within to change the org for years. Nothing’s changed.”