Center for American Progress employees described losing confidence in the organization’s president, Neera Tanden, after a Wednesday meeting in which she revealed the first name of a woman who filed a sexual harassment complaint.
BuzzFeed previously reported on the allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation at the progressive think tank, leading to Tanden holding a meeting to “restore confidence” in the organization. However, she accidentally revealed the woman who anonymously alleged sexual misconduct by her team manager at the time, Benton Strong.
Now, employees have told BuzzFeed that Tanden has lost their trust.
“Neera lost the organization today,” an employee who was in the meeting said. “There was so much angst in that room. She outed the victim, and the subtext of every question was a lack of confidence in her leadership and ability to create trust within the organization.”
“There is literally one thing you cannot do in this meeting and that is out the victim and Neera did it multiple times,” another employee said. “It also destroys whatever small level of confidence in the system remained.”
“As a manager I don’t know how I can tell staff to trust the system when the head of the organization just outed the victim in front of the entire organization,” the employee added. “It is impossible to trust her.”
A spokesperson for the organization, which also runs the news site ThinkProgress, said Tanden felt “horror” after realizing she had revealed the name of the alleged victim.
“She feels awful that it happened and that the victim’s negative experience was compounded; she also expressed that the victim’s actions in coming forward were courageous. Neera’s horror was very evident in the meeting,” the spokesperson said.
After the sexual harassment matter was reported by BuzzFeed earlier this week, Tanden had said she was working to handle complaints better in the future.
“At the end of the day the most important thing is that our staff feel safe, supported, and listened to. That that didn’t happen is something that is on me to rectify for the future,” Tanden wrote in an email to staff.
Other employees said the meeting did not address sexual harassment matters as directly as they had wanted.
“I think there was overall a lot of disappointment in the room because a lot of people — staff of all levels, some who obviously were taking a big risk by being confrontational — brought up super specific concerns, and got vague stuff in response,” a staffer said.
“It’s just like, how do you hold a meeting telling people you support those who report, you want to create a safe environment to report, and then immediately … out someone who reported,” the staffer added. “Who is gonna come forward knowing that risk?”