Employees at Planned Parenthood's largest affiliate call for removal of CEO
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Employees at Planned Parenthood’s largest affiliate call for removal of CEO

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On June 18th, employees at Planned Parenthood of Greater New York issued an open letter exposing major issues with the Planned Parenthood affiliate’s staff arrangements and employee treatment. The letter accuses the affiliate CEO, Laura McQuade, of extreme misconduct in areas having to do with finances, employees, and business management. The letter began by expressing a “profound lack of confidence in Laura McQuade, our Chief Officers, and our Board of Directors.” It went on to say:

In her two-and-a-half year tenure, McQuade has created a culture of fear and intimidation; we have witnessed her cull dissenters and surround herself with enablers. Through abusive behavior and financial malfeasance, we have watched her fundamentally threaten the fiscal and operational viability of Planned Parenthood’s largest affiliate and its 900 employees.

The letter described McQuade’s abusive behavior as reported by employees, who said they have “witnessed McQuade yell, berate, slam her fists, verbally abuse, humiliate, and bully employees, often brutally shaming staff members in internal meetings in front of their colleagues.”

The letter also stated that under McQuade’s leadership, “the organization has lost the 18 million dollar surplus” the affiliate had at the beginning of her tenure “and replaced it with a 2020 projected deficit of 6.2 million dollars for the first six months, well before the COVID-19 crisis.” In the context of the virus, McQuade emailed her staff to announce “imminent layoffs and furloughs affecting 250 employees, or 28% of total staff,” just one month into the pandemic, the letter noted. Instead of adapting the business budget by decreasing the salaries of higher-ranking staff members, employees said “McQuade immediately laid off 134 employees and furloughed another 100,” choosing to “protect only herself and her Chief Officers.”

READ: Workers recount Planned Parenthood’s ‘dark’ culture of pregnancy discrimination

“[S]ystemic racism, pay inequity, and lack of upward mobility for Black staff,” were common among reports from employees of color during third party assessments, according to the letter. Of the three assessments conducted to address the obvious gap in racial equity, none proved effective in resolving the issue. Finally, the increased rate of turnover—reportedly brought on by all of the previously listed issues and intentional job outsourcing executed by McQuade—has been a tremendous loss to the affiliate in the area of experience and knowledge, sometimes losing staff who had worked at the affiliate for up to two decades.

In short, the letter demanded the following results in response:

1. The immediate removal of Laura McQuade as CEO of PPGNY and all leadership who enable her directly or who are complicit through inaction

2. Salary cuts to all PPGNY Chief Officers making over $100,000 per year

3. A thorough, independent investigation into our above mentioned allegations of abuse and financial malfeasance

4. A new independent, external, experienced leader, hired by an independent, expert party, in close cooperation with staff and centering our patients and the communities we serve, to take control and help restore and improve upon the organizational culture of all of our legacy affiliates

On June 19th, the PPGNY Board of Directors released a statement acknowledging the staff letter and claimed that “transformation” would be taking place regarding the five intitiatives set forth by the staff. However, the Board made clear its continued support for McQuade as the affiliate’s leader.

Currently, over 350 current and past employees of the abortion industry have signed their names (or aliases) in support of the letter, and countless more workers not involved in the industry have signed in solidarity with the letter as well.

Editor’s Note, 6/24/20: This article originally stated there was an $18 million surplus at the beginning of 2020. This has been corrected to reflect that it was at the beginning of McQuade’s time at Planned Parenthood.

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