Quite honestly Lewis, what violates our trust in OP is seeing that after all the risk many of us took nothing has substantially changed. While you continue having "candid conversations with AE leadership", AE leadership has not extended the same grace to its staff and has been anything but candid to its employees. As you confirmed yourself, OP has been aware of and addressing the problems with AE since 2019. You claim that significant actions were taken since, however, in 2020 what we actually saw was the issues escalating and not improving, culture becoming much worse to the point of affecting mental health of employees, leadership becoming much more authoritarian and despotic. To speak only about what is already public knowledge, in 2020 AE lost almost the entire Germany office and fired more than one employee on medical leave as retaliation. How then do you affirm that they are making significant changes? The said changes are clearly only on paper, and the discourse does not reflect the reality of the culture. People who are still working at AE continue telling us about the same problems, but they are afraid of speaking up since they know many of us already did and nothing has been done either by OP and others who we trusted would take action to hold the organisation accountable. As far as we know, independent directors joining the board aren't actually that "independent", but personal friends and very aligned with leadership. It is crystal clear to just about everyone who ever worked at AE that leadership is simply not qualified to manage the organisation. Unfortunately, OP's continuous failure to act despite the piling amount of evidence received from multiple whistleblowers is part of the reason why so many of the most passionate and effective animal rights advocates are choosing to leave the movement and losing faith in effective altruism. We simply can't in good faith believe that the most effective way to do the most good for animals entails continuing supporting organisations with such toxic culture. Still, donors like you keep pouring funds under the guise of effectiveness when we all know AE is anything but cost-effective unless you take their fraudulent metrics at face value, which you really shouldn't.
Thank you for your response, Lewis, but you understand if many of us are very skeptical. Writing anonymously on behalf of a number of former Animal Equality employees from at least three different countries who were all forced out of the organisation or resigned due to our attempts to hold leadership to account for their horrible treatment of staff, lies, nepotism, and complete lack of transparency. OP reached out to some of us in 2019, following the departure of a number of Directors (both country EDs and international department Directors) and staff, to discuss the situation. Many of us risked our careers, reputations, and likelihood of retaliation by AE leadership to speak with OP in the hope that we could help protect employees still working at the organization. Some of us spoke with OP about this more than once, and many of us provided specific examples of extremely problematic behavior by leadership. OP assured us it would protect us as well as those still working at AE but failed to take any concrete action to hold AE accountable, thus putting at risk the whistleblowers who took the risk to protect others. But instead, OP continues funding the organisation and this financing and enabling the abusive behavior reported by dozens of employees from multiple countries. Meanwhile AE leadership continues to fire all of those who dare to raise their voices, badmouth former employees framing them as problematic and difficult (when not worse), promote to leadership positions those problematic individuals who are personally close to leadership, and refuse to have a truly independent board. There is a plethora of evidence showing how toxic culture has direct impact on performance and effectiveness, and how mismanagement wastes resources. For example, if you only consider the amount of money paid directly to employees being fired, it already sums up to hundreds of thousand dollars, not considering adjacent costs of hiring, training, loss of effectiveness due to high turnover, etc. it means that a lot of donations are literally wasted by mismanagement. It is hard to understand what’s the reasoning behind OP’s decision to continue supporting AE. We would love for you to explain that and collectively we would like to say that we expect funders to take more responsibility for the culture they are enabling through their donations.