Columbus, OH

CEO Resigns After Racism Claims

Liz Fe Lifestyle

Bill Hardy, the CEO and President of Equitas Health, has resigned following claims of racial discrimination within the company from current and former employees. Sam Rinehart, the Chairman of the Board, announced on Saturday that the Equitas Board of Trustees accepted Hardy’s resignation which became effective immediately.

“Equitas Health plays a vital role in the community. We are at a juncture that requires both the Board and senior leadership to take a deep and introspective look at where we are - and who we are - to ensure that we have the right leaders in place to continue to fulfill our important mission. We are working closely with the leadership team to begin the healing process and create a stronger, more inclusive culture that reflects our shared values and priorities,” Rinehart said in a public statement.

On Oct. 7, Hardy had announced that the company was creating a position titled Chief People & Culture Officer due to reports of racism and racial discrimination being claimed as a problem among multiple employees. On Oct. 12, the Board of Trustees said that it had an independent investigator conduct an internal investigation based around the company's culture. The board also said that they were setting up a process where employees could bring this kind of information directly to them.

"The Board will take appropriate action based on the findings of this internal investigation, and with humility, we ask for grace as we take this opportunity to address these concerns and earn the trust of our staff, our clients, and our communities," the board wrote on Oct. 12.

Hardy then tendered his resignation within a week of this statement. Rinehart didn’t specify any reasons for his resignation. The chairman said that the company will be searching for an interim CEO and a permanent CEO, and they are also still searching for someone to fill their position for the Chief People & Culture Officer.

Rinehart released his statement on the Equitas Health Facebook page, and it was met with many different kinds of comments. Some people were applauding what he said, while others stated that many other people needed to resign. Bob Vitale commented that Sam and the board should have known about the toxic atmosphere for a while, so he should feel more responsible for this issue and resign himself. Many people said that this was a very small start to what the company should do to solve this cultural issue.

Equitas Health had posted a statement on Oct. 7 saying that they acknowledge the impacts that people of color who work for them have been feeling. They said that white supremacy and structural racism has a large impact on people of color, and that these people can be left out of the LGBT community. They said that they apologize for any role they’ve had in perpetuating this culture. They said that they appreciate their employees calling them out, and that they’re going to try and do better. This is the same statement that mentioned hiring a Chief People & Culture Officer. The role is meant to oversee culture, human resources, and inclusion. They want the role to be a way to make them a more anti-racist organization.

The statement said that they are going to be doing other things to demonstrate their commitment to equality and inclusion. They’re going to implement a diversity and inclusion plan to address racial disparities. They’re also planning on engaging in Transformative Justice and Restorative Justice efforts in the community, commitment to staff representation, resource allocation for Human Resources and Diversity & Inclusion departments, and board diversification. They also mentioned an equity compensation audit. They said that they’re hopeful about their future, and to visit their website if you have any questions about their plans.

On Oct. 12, they released a different statement saying that they were deeply troubled by claims of racism and racial discrimination being mentioned by current and former employees. They said that they understand the urgency of the matter, and that they were investigating the issue. They didn’t go into specifics about the racial problems they were being accused of, and they didn’t mention any specific people that were being accused of racism. Hardy’s resignation statement was posted four days later.

Equitas Health is a non-profit healthcare system that is meant to help the needs of LGBTQ+ members. Their website says that they’re one of the largest LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS serving healthcare organizations in the U.S. They have locations in multiple different states, but they’re headquartered in Ohio. They say that their vision is to help individuals living with or affected by HIV/AIDS, the LGBTQ+ community, and others who experience medical disparities have access to high quality health care.

Their website says that their values include cultural humility, comprehensive care, inclusion, acceptance, respect, forward thinking, being relationship oriented, and nobility of purpose. They say that they offer a safe and accepting healthcare environment for all.

The company has a 3.3 star rating on Indeed. One person who’s profile says that they’re based in Columbus, Ohio said that the management was terrible and rated it one star. Overall culture of the workplace is rated at 3.3 stars, and many people say that there is a high turnover rate due to the culture being negative. Women specifically have the company an overall rating of 2.6 stars. All of the main negative comments say that the workplace environment isn’t very good.

There’s no real news about whether or not Hardy directly contributed to any of the racism issues that employees were complaining about. Either way, the CEO is supposed to be in charge of making sure that their workplace is an inclusive area to be at. People are giving very mixed feedback on whether or not they believe that the company's response to the situation is enough. Once the company hires a new CEO and Chief People & Culture Officer to advise the culture of the workplace, hopefully the company will begin to have better reviews about the work environment.

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