Bono ‘Reeling and Furious’ Following Harassment Allegations Against ONE
Bono has apologized following numerous accusations against ONE, the organization he co-founded to fight extreme poverty and preventable disease. The host of allegations included the organization's toxic work environment, abuse and harassment by senior staff and even tax evasion.
In his apology, Bono notes that he and his board, which includes former U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, are "reeling" from these revelations.
ONE and the public were first made aware of these problems in November 2017, when staffers followed the lead of the #metoo movement that began in Hollywood, taking to Twitter to air some of their grievances. Seventeen of them came forward, with some claiming they were treated "worse than dogs."
An internal investigation was launched and, when confronted with those and additional allegations this week, CEO Gayle Smith admitted, "The investigation yielded evidence of unprofessional conduct and, in particular, what I would characterize as bullying and belittling of staff between late 2011 and 2015 in our Johannesburg office.
"Staff were called names," like "worthless," "stupid" and "idiot," in front of others, "and some said their manager put them to work on domestic tasks in her home."
Smith revealed that they "do not discount any allegation – we investigate them and will continue to do so should others arise," but already know enough to say "the overall evidence from our investigation was sufficient for me to conclude that we needed to own an institutional failure."
Former staffers agree. More than 20 of them quit the organization in a period of five years. Last week an attorney filed a suit on behalf of seven former employees, seeking 3.5 million in damages for their distress.
Much of the alleged abuse came under former executive director Sipho Moyo, who vehemently denies any wrongdoing. While staffers claimed she forced them to perform a variety of inappropriate and unprofessional tasks including massaging her feet, mixing drinks for a party at her home, fetching a puppy from out of town and managing her hotel room air conditioning in the middle of the night, Moyo claims her own superiors were pressuring and abusing her.
One former staffer claimed she was demoted and her salary slashed when she refused her boss' directive to have sex with a foreign politician.
“We are all deeply sorry. I hate bullying, can’t stand it," Bono said. "The poorest people in the poorest places being bullied by their circumstance is the reason we set up ONE. So to discover last November that there were serious and multiple allegations of bullying in our office in Johannesburg left me and the ONE board reeling and furious.”