In an open letter, more than 300 former and current employees of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, which includes the center named after the organization’s founder Margaret Sanger, has claimed that president and CEO Laura McQuade was “abusive” and mishandled the organization’s finances.
The letter reads, in part, “The CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, Laura McQuade, has proven to be a toxic leader and autocrat, and we, the current and former staff of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, write this letter to demand her immediate removal.”
“We are expressing our profound lack of confidence in Laura McQuade, our Chief Officers, and our Board of Directors. In her two-and-a-half-year tenure, McQuade has created a culture of fear and intimidation; we have witnessed her cull dissenters and surround herself with enablers. Through abusive behavior and financial malfeasance, we have watched her fundamentally threaten the fiscal and operational viability of Planned Parenthood’s largest affiliate and its 900 employees.”
The employees argue that they have witnessed McQuade “yell, berate, slam her fists, verbally abuse, humiliate, and bully employees, often brutally shaming staff members in internal meetings in front of their colleagues.”
They also question how the organization went from an $18 million surplus to a $6.2 million deficit, and claim that the pandemic was a cover for layoffs that had already been in the works due to those financial issues. This is all despite the fact that McQuade made $428,321 in 2018, which is similar to the salary of Cecile Richards, the former president and CEO of Planned Parenthood.
What’s utterly fascinating in the letter is the acknowledgement of Margaret Sanger’s racist intentions with the organization and how McQuade has continued that legacy. “Planned Parenthood was founded by a racist, white woman (Sanger). That is a part of history that cannot be changed. While efforts have been made to undo some of the harm from institutional racism, many of these issues have worsened under McQuade’s tenure. After years of complaints from staff about issues of systemic racism, pay inequity, and lack of upward mobility for Black staff, highly paid consultants were brought in three separate times to assess the situation. Each time, employees of color were brutally honest about their experiences, but nothing changed. It is not possible to do justice to the scope and gravity of this issue here. Black women and other staff of color created a space to speak directly to their experiences.”
A separate open letter written by current and former staff who are known as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), focused more on the allegations of racism. In the letter, the group accuses McQuade of “creating a toxic work environment” and “weaponizing the language of diversity, equality, and inclusion.” They also argue that she has specifically targeted BIPOC for furlough/termination, which includes about 28% of the staff.
McQuade has now left the organization.
These letters are shocking, but not surprising. Planned Parenthood doesn’t care about its patients, so why would it care about its employees? This organization is about making money and not saving lives nor providing a good work environment for the women and men it employs.
In an article in The New York Times published in 2018, a report explored how Planned Parenthood management at the White Plains, N.Y. location, which is in a different affiliate office, did not give pregnant women proper breaks nor did they allow them an opportunity to eat and drink water during their shift.
A former manager at a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Arizona was fired after questioning why the abortionist wasn’t charting the patient’s visit appropriately, potentially risking the patients’ health. She was even framed for drug possession as the organization worked to force her out. She eventually won a wrongful termination suit.
Planned Parenthood has a history of not treating its employees well. It’s a money-making organization with a racist founder and history after all. From Margaret Sanger to some of the senior management, the same problems remain.
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