#MeToo movement reaches NGO world

Wael Hmaidan, the head of a well-known global environmental NGO, was suspended following accusations of bullying and harassment. An independent investigation is ongoing.

Claudia Ciobanu
Claudia Ciobanu NewsMavens, Central & Eastern Europe
#MeToo movement reaches NGO world - NewsMavens
Wael Hmaidan, YouTube

Why this story matters:

One has the expectation that activists and NGO workers would live according to the values they advocate. It is therefore always a shock when activists turn out to be bullies and aggressors. That seems to be the case with Wael Hmaidan, suspended head of CAN International. 

In reality, of course, the activist world might be just a microcosm of the real world, not a better version of it as we might expect. More than once, I met activists who were merely careerists, and who seemed to have ended up in the NGO world almost by accident -- people whose lives had little in common with the values they promoted. 

But when such cases of bullying and harrassment come out, they still shock.

The hypocrisy of someone advocating publicly for justice and acting like a brute in private is maddening. 

Details from the story:

  • The executive director of CAN International, Wael Hmaidan, was suspended this week pending an independent investigation into “a number of serious complaints”.
  • One of them came from the father of a former CAN employee, Holly Borday, who committed suicide. The father claimed his daughter's spirit was "completely broken" by the atmosphere in the climate movement. 
  • Other employees have sent letters, detailing both an abusive atmosphere at work driven by Hmaidan, and in some cases "inappropriate advances" made by the man. 
  • Apparently, the NGO lacked a policy about what to do in such cases, as employees with such complaints about Hmaidan were formally expected to bring them to his attention (not to someone else's). 
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