Giving Compass' Take:

• Marc Gunther describes the steps the Humane Society of the United States has taken to address the sexual harassment scandal surrounding its former CEO. 

• What steps can donors take to ensure nonprofits they support are addressing workplace issues? What more can board members, funders, and nonprofit leaders do to promote transparency and accountability?

•  Read more about navigating animal welfare funding in the #MeToo era. 

For more than a year, the Humane Society of the United States, the US’s most powerful animal-welfare group, has been trying to recover from charges of sexual harassment levied against Wayne Pacelle, its former chief executive.

The Humane Society’s board has apologized to women who lodged complaints against Pacelle, adopted new policies and practices, brought on new members, commissioned a pay-equity study and — after women at HSUS hired a lawyer to represent their interests — launched what it calls a reconciliation process to try to understand what went wrong and how best to prevent future problems.

On January 25, HSUS’s board appointed Kitty Block, a lawyer who has devoted more than a quarter of a century to animal welfare — and who is herself a survivor of sexual harassment at HSUS — as its new president and CEO.

But if HSUS wants to regain the support and trust of donors, staff and allies, its board of directors will have to deal with some unfinished business. First, the directors will need to make public, in some form, the findings of the reconciliation process, if only so that Pacelle and, perhaps, others who behaved badly are held accountable. Second, some donors are calling on HSUS to remove from the board those directors who supported Pacelle — and discounted the allegations against him — when news of the scandal broke.

HSUS has been wounded by the sexual-harassment scandal. Last year, HSUS’s revenues fell, as donations grew to other animal welfare groups.  HSUS has also spent a small fortune to clean up the messes created by the scandal — on an initial investigation by the Washington office of a corporate law firm, Morgan Lewis; on the ongoing reconciliation process, led by a feminist lawyer named Kate Kimpel; and on consultants to deal with issues of pay equity and workplace culture. Those fixes are vital, but they require HSUS to spend donor money that could otherwise have been put to work on behalf of animals.

Read the full article about The Humane Society of the U.S. by Marc Gunther at Medium.