August 19, 2020

Statement available in Arabic, French, Portuguese, and Spanish.

On July 6, IWHC was informed of complaints from former and current employees about racism, bullying, intimidation, and a toxic work environment directed at Black women and women of color in our workplace. Since then, the Board has undertaken a number of actions. The following note serves as an update on the processes that are currently underway:

1. Culture review and investigation of racism allegations:

  • The Board has hired Grace Speights, a respected and highly experienced senior partner at the law firm Morgan Lewis to undertake an investigation into the issues raised by former and current staff to help the Board identify and understand the problems. Grace’s work began on July 17, 2020, and is anticipated to end in September.
  • To date 29 current and former employees have come forward for interviews and 24 have been interviewed thus far. An additional 13 grantees, board members, and donors have come forward and 5 of these have provided written submissions to Grace and her team.
  • We encourage anybody who wants to share their experiences working at IWHC to come forward and email In order to complete the investigation in the timeframes referenced all interviews will be scheduled for completion by Labor Day, September 7.
  • Grace and her team will share their findings and recommendations with the Board on completion of the review and the Board will then decide on the appropriate actions to take. A written report summarizing these findings and recommendations will be shared with staff and partners.
  • The future status of the senior staff currently on leave will be resolved after the completion of the review.

2. Additional reviews into grantmaking and pay equity: 

  • The Board Special Subcommittee, chaired by Kathleen Regan and Sisonke Msimang, has launched a Grantee Review of grantee and advocacy partner relationships as well as a separate a pay equity and career mapping study.
  • The Grantee Review will be undertaken by an experienced independent program development and evaluation expert in the reproductive rights field. This expert will undertake the review of the relationship between partners, grantees, and the organizations and the process of trust-based grant-making and will be directly and independently reaching out to partners.
  •  Nonprofit HR, a human resources firm that works exclusively with the nonprofit sector, is conducting a pay equity analysis to ensure consistency with industry best practices and career path recommendations. This organization was selected for their experience in applying a gender and racial equity lens to these types of reviews.
  •  Both reviews will be completed in the early fall and will be critical inputs for the Board’s evaluation of the future organizational development and structure of IWHC.
  • A final phase of the organizational review and response will be an assessment of the Board structure and support for the organization. In the interim, the Board is planning training around unconscious bias and institutionalized racism specifically for Board members as a complement to the diversity, equity and inclusion work being conducted by the staff.

3. In order to support the organization during this transition period, IWHC has hired an experienced Interim Chief Operating Officer, Robin Jenkins. Robin joins the organization today in a newly-created interim role. She will be working with the interim senior management team to support IWHC’s operational and programmatic work and will be directly overseeing several aspects of operations, including communications and development. Her extensive management background and interim leadership roles with other social justice not for profits position her well for this role. Her profile can be found here on our website.

The Board’s initial statement, available here.
Board update of July 27, 2020, available here.
Board update of October 6, 2020, available here