Emmett Carson has been forced out of his post as president and CEO of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) following an independent inquiry into allegations of bullying and harassment which highlighted a ‘toxic work environment’. The investigation followed a report published in April by the US-based Chronicle of Philanthropy, following which Carson was put on paid leave and senior staff at the foundation resigned. They included the person at the centre of the storm, Mari Ellen Loijens, the foundation’s top fundraiser whose management style was described by one former employee as ‘oppressive’.
Silicon Valley is the world’s most successful community foundation when it comes to fundraising, with $13.5 billion in assets under management (according to figure cited in the Chronicle’s report). But the focus on raising funds from Silicon Valley’s elite philanthropists had created a ‘results at all costs’ attitude, noted the law firm carrying out the investigation, Boies Schiller Flexner. Their reports finds ‘certain widespread workplace culture issues at SVCF, including a fear of speaking out or reporting workplace issues out of concern for retaliation, as well as a distrust of HR leadership. The top-down, “command-and-control” management style of SVCF’s former CEO and former senior development executive contributed to this environment.’
Andrew Milner is associate editor of Alliance magazine