How one organization—our own—got it wrong in responding to sexual harassment. And how we can do better.
I joined Christianity Today as its president and CEO in May of 2019. In August of the same year, it came to my attention that one of our editorial leaders had treated his female reports unprofessionally, engaging in unwanted touch despite repeated communications that such behavior was wrong, unwelcome, and needed to stop. I gathered more information about the history of the issue, and it was clear that earlier incidents with this individual had been addressed primarily through one-on-one conversations.
Without any written warnings in place, our options in August of 2019 were limited. We disciplined him, we documented it, and we warned him that he would be suspended or fired if it should happen again. No further allegations of unwanted touch or other inappropriate conduct arose between then and his retirement.
However, in September of 2021, two current female employees approached me and CT’s executive editor, Ted Olsen. They presented a more thoroughgoing narrative regarding this individual’s conduct, one that extended back many years and continued even after his retirement.
We hold these women in the highest regard and were deeply saddened to hear their stories. They described highly inappropriate comments and unwanted touch that left them feeling disrespected, objectified, and unsafe. Our immediate response was to grieve with them, thank them for their courage, and commit to a process that rigorously examines what we got wrong as a ministry and what we must do differently going forward.
(We were also aware of a second narrative, also years ago, in which another CT employee, who worked in advertising, was charged with a sex crime outside of the workplace and was fired from the ministry as soon as possible thereafter. …