Kimberly Bryant has been suspended from Black Girls Code, the very company she founded, according to TechCrunch. Allegations from the board of directors claim Bryant misgendered a staff member and created a toxic work environment. However, after an independent investigation, it was unclear what claims were unsubstantiated against her.
According to the report, tensions had been brewing in 2021 between Bryant and the board of directors she hired. A few employees had resigned and brought their concerns to the board which led them to place Bryant on administrative paid leave. Yet, Bryant wasn’t made aware. Instead, she found out in December 2021 when she tried to access her email and couldn’t get in.
Lead board member Heather Hiles took to hiring a special committee to investigate the allegations. Bryant filed a lawsuit in response.
Read on Bryant’s lawsuit from Inc. Magazine:
Black Girls Code, which provides training opportunities in digital technology for Black girls ages 7 to 17, largely operates through donations and rapidly grew during the pandemic; it received about $1.5 million in donations through 2019, compared with $30 million by the close of 2021, the lawsuit claims. Bryant alleges that this rapid growth led board member Heather Hiles to take on a more active role at Black Girls Code.
Hiles “sought to capitalize on BGC’s growth and increased funding for her own personal gain,” alleges Bryant in legal filings. Bryant claims that Hiles attempted to arrange a partnership between the e-learning platform Udemy, where Hiles is a director, ahead of Udemy’s IPO, and that Hiles impeded the establishment of an endowment, with the intention of diverting the funds to a venture capital firm where Hiles also serves as a managing partner. Hiles did not respond to a request for comment regarding the allegations.
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After the investigation, the law firm stated out of 26 witnesses they interviewed, none of them substantiated Black Girls Code’s allegations against Bryant. They did respond to her lawsuit, though.
“The allegations in Ms. Bryant’s lawsuit are false, and BGC intends to vigorously defend itself against those claims,” said BGC in a statement to Inc. Magazine. “The Board believes the decision to remove Ms. Bryant as CEO and as a board member is in the best interests of the organization, the girls it serves, its employees, and its donors. BGC has been focusing its efforts on moving forward and expanding on the success of the organization since its inception.”
Bryant suggested via social media that her removal may have been a retaliation, citing the fact she wasn’t offered severance. Other Black women CEO’s showed their support for her and frowned upon how the situation was handled.
“This isn’t right. When no one believed in the abilities of young Black girls, Kimberly did. The most important stakeholders that are impacted by this decision are the youth. This is really sad,” tweeted HBCU20x20 CEO Nicole Tinson.