Southern Poverty Law Center Taps Tina Tchen After Founder’s Firing
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has hired Tina Tchen, who previously worked as chief of staff to then-First Lady Michelle Obama and now leads the Workplace Cultural Compliance practice at Buckley LLP. She is conducting a “top-to-bottom external review” of workplace culture at the SPLC in the aftermath of the board firing its Co-Founder, Morris Dees. “Every workplace, including social justice organizations, must work hard to create a workplace culture that fully reflects their values and priorities, including when it comes to racial and gender diversity,” said Tchen in a statement. She said she will lead a “comprehensive process to address all aspects of the workplace culture at SPLC.” The Montgomery, AL-based organization, which tracks extremist groups across the U.S., is scrambling to address employee unrest over working conditions. They are also trying to patch the hole left by Dees, who was fired last Thursday for undisclosed misconduct, which caught many by surprise. The leadership of the center is predominantly white, and after one of the SPLC’s Black attorneys announced her resignation earlier this month -- writing in a message to staff that there was “more work to do” to make women and people of color feel welcome -- a group of staffers shared additional concerns with management in a letter. Allegations of harassment and racism in the SPLC’s Montgomery office stretch back decades. A 1994 Montgomery Advertiser investigation detailed concerns about Dees’ discrimination and harassment of employees, including Black employees. Tchen, who co-founded the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund to support women experiencing harassment at work, most recently chaired the Recording Academy’s task force on inclusion and diversity. Tchen on Monday would not specifically speak to the issues her SPLC review might focus on, though she said it would look "holistically" at its workplace culture to "build diverse workplaces" for all groups of people. More here.