GitHub Apologizes for Handling of Harassment Claim That Led to President’s Exit

githubWe’re not programmers, so we’d barely heard the name GitHub before this month–yet the company just provided an interesting example of a tech company responding to self-created controversy.

You probably know the story, but…

A female engineer resigned from the company and spoke to TechCrunch in March, describing a culture of sexism and intimidation and specifically accusing the company’s co-founder/president and his wife of behaving inappropriately.

The news got even more attention thanks to a string of recent reports about the poor state of gender equality in the tech industry.

While the president resigned, the company’s CEO claimed in a blog post that its own internal investigation had uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing.

Yesterday, however, GitHub changed course.

The most interesting part of the reversal was just how dramatic it turned out to be.

In yesterday’s newly apologetic post, CEO Chris Wanstrath explained that, while the internal investigation “found nothing to support a sexist or discriminatory environment at GitHub”, it did find that the now-former president behaved badly. Offenses include:

“…confrontational conduct, disregard of workplace complaints, insensitivity to the impact of his spouse’s presence in the workplace, and failure to enforce an agreement that his spouse should not work in the office. There were also issues surrounding the solicitation of GitHub employees for non-GitHub business and the inappropriate handling of employee concerns regarding those solicitations.”

The new post’s apologetic tone is especially striking given initial “nothing to see hear” statements; the accuser now says she’s “pretty satisfied” with the response and transparency efforts.

The company itself lists a new HR hire among efforts taken to address the underlying cultural allegations, but–and we’re hardly objective parties here–something tells us that a little communications assistance could have made this controversy a bit less painful for all involved.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.
Publish date: April 29, 2014 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT