An update from Kitty Block
By Kitty Block, Acting President & CEO, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
Source: The Humane Society of the United States - February 8, 2018
Several days ago, in the video above, I laid out a series of commitments to you – every supporter, every member of our staff, every volunteer, every partner, and every advocate. I felt that we needed to make – and meet – those commitments, because without you, The Humane Society of the United States could not continue to stamp out animal cruelty in the United States and around the world.
You and I share a vision of a more humane society. We cannot achieve that vision with barriers standing in our way. But together, we can move forward.
Today I want to update you on the commitments we are making and how we are meeting them.
We will provide a safe and supportive workplace.
Over the past year, in the wake of sexual harassment claims against a former employee, we strengthened our policies on sexual harassment and how to report concerns. We trained every manager on staff about these policies – the training was mandatory – and told them they had a duty to report any violation that could harm any individual or the organization. We created several ways for staff to safely report harassment and other misconduct – including a 24-hour, toll-free hotline and website accessible to every employee. We even made sure this hotline worked for our employees around the globe who work for our international arm, Humane Society International, and for whom English is not their primary language.
While we still have a lot more work to do, our training – and that reporting system – have begun to have an impact. Over the past year, we received and investigated several complaints of misconduct, all while maintaining confidentiality. Some of those investigations resulted in terminations – terminations that came with no severance pay. And that reporting system was used by a courageous employee who made the first allegation against our former CEO. As I write, we are investigating another report made to us, and are doing so with speed, fairness and compassion.
I told our staff that when I experienced sexual harassment at this organization 22 years ago, the organization did not even have a single HR professional on staff. We’ve changed a lot since then. Today, right now, we are doing everything we can to ensure that every person on our team – and every person we interact with – feels safe, secure, and valued. And we are committed to making sure our policies, practices, and broader culture are worthy of our values and our mission.
We will operate with transparency, and openness.
We will work with our employees to reboot our culture. All across the country, businesses and nonprofits are evaluating how we treat each other. This cultural conversation has driven home a strong message: We need to have high standards and a model work culture, one built on transparency as well as shared values, behaviors, and accountability.
We are looking at best practices for policies and processes throughout the organization, and our Board of Directors is looking at itself, too. Our board will conduct a governance review, which will involve bringing in outside experts to look at structure, policies, and best practices, and how the board can best function and provide oversight of the organization.
A culture of transparency requires work, and consistent effort. I believe that we cannot be effective at fighting animal cruelty unless you have trust in the leadership of the organization.
We will be worthy of your trust.
It’s my fervent desire to be that leader, one whom staff can trust. And just as importantly, I want this organization to be one that you can entrust with your support.
When you donate to stop animals from suffering, you trust us to take every dollar you give and translate it into tangible gains for animals. We don’t take that lightly. We’ve earned that trust by being effective at achieving our mission for more than 60 years. No other animal charity in America has translated the support of its donors into such transformative changes in the ways animals are treated in America… on the farm, in the lab, in the wild, and in our homes.
Without your support, animals will surely suffer. That’s why I’ve made this commitment to you. I know that what I do, and what this organization does, will be key to earning your trust and keeping it.
And finally, the compassion we seek in the world will be the foundation of everything we do, and every interaction we have.
The Humane Society of the United States fights for all animals. Our mission today remains as powerful as it was last week, last year, and decades ago. This organization simply cannot be effective unless we live and breathe compassion in everything we do, every interaction we have. We realize that we must rededicate ourselves to being good colleagues and to providing a safe and equitable workplace where everyone’s contributions are valued and respected.
I thank the brave women who have come forward. I believe them. Because of their courage, we are in a better place as an organization. If others have concerns, we want to hear them, and have channels for doing so. If they are reported, I pledge that we will investigate them fairly and thoroughly.
While this is an extremely challenging time, I’m confident that we will meet these commitments. We owe it to you, and we owe it to the animals who depend on us.
Acting President & CEO
The Humane Society of the United States
document, plus video