LOS ANGELES (AP) — Confusion over purpose and mission. Lack of focus on long-term goals. Ineffective communication internally and externally. Lack of accountability for top officials, especially the CEO. Too politically partisan, and too aligned with Hollywood.
These are just some of the issues raised in a report commissioned by Time’s Up and released Friday — in the name of transparency — as the advocacy group pledged a “major reset” including the termination of most of the staff. It comes three months after a damaging scandal forced the departure of chief executive Tina Tchen over revelations that the group’s leaders advised former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration after he was first accused of sexual harassment last year.
“We’re going down to the studs,” said Ashley Judd, one of the group’s most visible members and a key early voice in the broader #MeToo movement, in an interview.
“We’re going to rebuild and reset and come back in a way that honors our mandate, incorporates the voices of our critics, learns from our findings … and holds ourselves accountable but also lives up to our potential.”
Judd and Monifa Bandele, the interim leader since September, spoke to The Associated Press ahead of the report’s release, which coincides with a major staff upheaval. Most of the staff of 25 people were informed Friday they were being laid off at the end of the year, with a skeleton crew of three remaining. Four board members will stay on, including Judd, as the organization decides its next steps and chooses leadership. Bandele is stepping down.
Both women insisted that Time’s Up remains crucially important as an advocacy group for women. Bandele, who says she made the decision herself not to seek – for now – the permanent CEO role she had wanted, noted that “Even the people who are the toughest, toughest critics said, ‘We still need Time’s Up. Time’s Up is going to play a critical role in our movement. …. I didn’t see any ‘Burn it all down.’”
And Judd offered an emotional defense of the organization, saying she feels “as energized and committed today” as she did when Time’s Up launched in the wake of allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, whom she herself had accused of sexual harassment. “The need for fair, safe, dignified workplaces for women of all kinds is still urgent.”
In explaining the group’s relevance, Judd told the anecdote of how a visiting producer on a movie she was doing came up to her and referred to a film they’d worked on years earlier. “I should have had you when I had the chance,” he declared, she said, in front of the entire crew and his wife. Judd did not identify the producer.
Judd said she knew she’d been harassed, and looked to the home page of SAG, the Screen Actors Guild, for help. “There was no help for me. And today, because of Time’s Up, on my union membership card there’s a sexual harassment hotline.”