A Note To Survivors And To Our Broader TIME’S UP Community
To the survivors in our organization, the TIME’S UP network, and throughout our community…
I am sorry. As someone working to combat sexual harassment and sexual violence, support survivors, and advance gender equity, the last thing I want any of my actions to do is to cause added pain or harm to survivors. And yet, I now know that some of my actions have done just that. For that I am profoundly sorry.
I also know that the news and events of the past week hurt, triggered, and disappointed many of you. TIME’S UP was born because survivors decided that enough was enough and exposed the pervasiveness of long-standing, hidden sexual harassment and abuse in the work place. Combatting sexual harassment and abuse and building safe, fair, and dignified workplaces so that it doesn’t happen in the first place remains our mission. Realizing that, in pursuit of that mission, we have caused harm to the very community at the core of our founding is deeply disturbing, and I see and own these mistakes, now and in the past.
One of the ways TIME’S UP has tried to contribute to the movement to end sexual violence is to work with public policy makers and corporate employers to advance the needs of survivors and workers. This is why, in 2019, TIME’S UP worked with the New York Governor’s office to ensure the passage of the New York Safety Agenda, legislation that has enacted major improvements in the state laws on sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual abuse. When our then-Board Chair Robbie Kaplan contacted me about actions in Cuomo’s office, I responded believing that, as they had been in the past, his office was interested in doing the right thing for women. The facts revealed in the Attorney General’s findings — that the letter was drafted by Cuomo as part of an ongoing effort to undermine the survivors — were completely unknown to me until the investigation’s report was released. I would never participate in or condone, in any way, such an attack or strategy.
I believe we were used as cover for heinous actions going on behind the scenes and, more recently, being used to distract and distort the actual legal and moral violations that occurred. But that in no way excuses my oversight and mistakes in failing to protect survivors and our work, and I recognize that similar scenarios may have played out in the past that I failed to see for what they were. For that, again, I am profoundly sorry.
I know that trust is broken, and must be earned back at a pace that’s aligned with the needs of the communities I’ve let down. To achieve that, I am committed to work openly in a collaborative process with our staff, survivors, our board, partners, allies, critics and the entire community that’s worked with us from the start. I want to design that process in a way that’s intersectional and aligned with our values. I will have more details about that process to share with everyone very soon. In the interim, I hope that those of you who are willing to talk with us will, and we are looking at the input we’ve already received from the open letter as part of this process. This moment, while devastating in many regards, forced us to reckon with the fact that we’ve moved out of alignment with the broader survivor community, full stop. We say it all the time internally, but we have to acknowledge through consistent action that it was the sacrifice, strategy, and work of survivors that made our founding possible in the first place. The progress we have made was seeded by your work and that of impacted people-led movements who have fought for change for decades. We have a responsibility to honor that and to earn our place in that lineage.
Over the years, TIME’S UP expanded its work to include gender and racial equity issues — from equal pay to caregiving to ending all forms of workplace harassment. The vision for that and all of our work includes survivors, but we have to recommit ourselves to building strategies that don’t just include you all, but that are also led and informed by you. You, and our collective work to build a world free of sexual violence, is what makes this organization powerful. Please know that it was never my or this organization’s intention to make you more susceptible to harm or for you to lose a safe space and trusted community in us — we know that what matters is the impact, not our intentions.
Again, we want to hear from you, and hope you will share your feedback on what we can do to move into a chapter where we both fight for accountability externally and model it internally, and where we are moving in lockstep with our partners and allied communities toward the goals we’re collectively trying to achieve.
With love, gratitude, open ears and an open mind,
Tina Tchen, President and CEO
TIME’S UP Foundation
The TIME’S UP™ Foundation insists upon safe, fair, and dignified work for all by changing culture, companies, and laws. We enable more people to seek justice through the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund™. We pioneer innovative research driving toward solutions to address systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace through the TIME’S UP Impact Lab. And we reshape key industries from within so they serve as a model for all industries. The TIME’S UP Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.