The United Way, one of the largest non-profits in the US, made headlines a few years ago when CEO Brian Gallagher resigned following multiple allegations of sexual harassment of female employees. This included retaliation against executives who complained of harassment by co-workers. In light of these past problems, it is incumbent upon the organization at every level to act according to the highest ethical standards.
Randy Sam’s, the homeless shelter in Texarkana connected with ongoing retaliation involving allegations of sexual misconduct against Douglas Anderson, former chair of the shelter’s board, receives funding from the United Way of Texarkana. Many United Way board members are prominent local citizens who work for organizations with vigorous policies against sexual harassment. Thus, they expose themselves, their employers, and the United Way to reputational risk by ignoring the problems at Randy Sam’s.
The solution? Meet with Randy Sam’s board of directors, explain the situation, and provide training on anti-discrimination and sexual harassment prevention training. If the issues with retaliation at Randy Sam’s continue, it is time to pull funding from the organization.
As for Douglas Anderson, we are well aware of his positive reputation in the area. But we have identified three women who allege sexual harassment by Anderson. Two are afraid to come forward. This pattern is not uncommon when a charismatic abuser is involved. So, it’s time to let go of preconceived notions about Anderson and look unbiasedly at the situation.
And let’s be clear: Women already face plenty of challenges in the workplace, including a glass ceiling, double standards, disparate pay and work conditions, and more.
In short, the United Way needs to be about helping fix this situation, not ignoring it. United Way Texarkana has skin in the game and the leverage to insist on positive change. And David Halt, the current rector of St. James, should be leading the charge.
Anglican Watch calls on the United Way of Greater Texarkana to insist on integrity at every level in this situation. And it needs to start with a sit-down with Randy Sam’s board of directors and a heart-to-heart conversation about appropriate workplace conduct. From there, we encourage the United Way to bring in HR experts to help Randy Sam’s clean up its issues with sexual harassment and equal employment opportunity.
We also remind Randy Sam’s and the Greater Texarkana United Way that these issues won’t be going away soon. Anglican Watch and others continue to look closely at this situation, how it’s being handled, and the personal integrity of those involved. And we are more than willing to name names.