Updated: Board statement on harassment, openness, and CC community

Creative Commons is firmly committed to a workplace, community, and culture of mutual respect, free of harassment.

Molly Van Houweling

UPDATE (October 19, 2018): The Audit Committee recently received a submission alleging violations of our policies. Following a thorough review by the Audit Committee, the Board of Directors has unanimously concluded that the organization acted appropriately and adhered to its policies, and that there was no violation of the code of conduct. We reaffirm our commitment to cultivating a safe, healthy, and respectful community. We look forward to working together to that end.

The Audit Committee received a submission from a former CC employee on September 28, 2018, requesting that it review two items: the alleged poor handling by CC of a complaint made in September, 2014, that a co-worker had engaged in inappropriate workplace behavior; and the alleged violation of CC’s code of conduct regarding the CEO’s communications in 2017 with respect to the complaint. The Audit Committee (board members operating independently of staff) completed a thorough review of relevant facts and circumstances surrounding those two items. This included fact-finding involving multiple conversations with people who had first-hand knowledge of events, and review of contemporaneous documentation. The Audit Committee concluded that review on October 12. A timeline of events established during the review is available here.

As to the first part of the submission: the Audit Committee determined that the 2014 complaint was investigated and resolved within 8 business days; that the finding of misconduct and discipline imposed was appropriate; that the complaint prompted the organization to strengthen its training and procedures going forward; that the timing and conduct of this process and the outcomes were reasonable; and that the organization acted in compliance with its policies. Further, with regard to the later conduct of the CEO as raised in the second part of the submission, the Audit Committee concluded that the CEO followed appropriate procedures in accordance with our policies, and there was no violation of the code of conduct.

We take these matters very seriously. We encourage members of our staff and community to speak up about and contribute to a respectful and inclusive culture for Creative Commons and the broader open community. Our commitment to those values will continue.

***  Original Post – September 28, 2018  ***

Creative Commons is firmly committed to a workplace, community, and culture of mutual respect, free of harassment. We take all allegations of harassment and misconduct very seriously. We care deeply about the pain and anguish that is felt by victims of harassment, even many years after the fact.

CC has recently become aware that former intern and employee, Billy Meinke, has published an open letter to the Board of Directors about his experience working at CC from 2012-2013. Mr. Meinke also blogged in 2017 about his experiences. In response to that post last year, the Board carefully reviewed all the facts and processes related to Mr. Meinke’s 2014 complaint to ensure the matter had been handled appropriately and fairly. We were confident that Mr. Meinke’s claims were promptly and thoroughly investigated when first reported, that CC’s response was appropriate, and that all processes and procedures were properly followed.

We take our role as a leading organization in the open community very seriously. Our strategy, policies, content, and code are all shared in an open community. These are our values, and our commitment is to be as open as we can in all of our work, because we believe it builds healthy, collaborative communities. However, sharing anything related to such sensitive matters must always be done with proper respect for the privacy and safety of the individuals involved. In light of Mr. Meinke’s decision to make his allegations public last year, we wanted to make it clear to the community that CC responds quickly to such claims and that harassment has no place in our workplace or community. We also wanted to ensure that our policies — which are overseen by the Audit Committee of the Board — are well-communicated to our employees and the public. At the time, CC shared as much detail as we felt we could in response to Mr. Meinke’s public post.

The Board has continued confidence in our leadership and staff for their response to these matters, and their efforts to ensure a positive and safe work environment for CC staff and community. Our policies apply to all staff, board members and officers, and to community members who participate in our global network and public events. These policies are designed to prevent harassment, protect victims, respond to complaints, and ensure the fair and prompt resolution of all allegations. Our policies are available for public review on our website, and are also aggregated on our public policies page.

Any member of the public may submit complaints about misconduct via email to the CC Audit Committee at audit@creativecommons.org. Complaints received by the Committee at that address are promptly handled in accordance with our policies and procedures.

Sincerely,

Creative Commons Board of Directors (Molly Shaffer Van Houweling, Chair)