Kimberly Bryant, the CEO and co-founder of the nonprofit group Black Girls Code, discovered she could not access her work e-mail on the morning of December 21. The nonprofit organization she started a decade ago sent her message to her personal email informing her that she had been “suspended indefinitely” by the board of directors. In a tweet, Bryant wrote, “So it’s three days before Christmas and you wake up to discover the organization YOU founded and developed from the bottom up has been taken away by a rogue board with no warning.” Bryant issued an official statement to TechCrunch two days after her temporary suspension.
“First and foremost, as the Founder and CEO of Black Girls Code, I am certain that I have not personally done anything unethical, immoral, or unlawful,” the statement stated. “As a founder who developed something from the ground up with her own blood, sweat, and tears, my struggle is about fairness and granting rights to founders, particularly women in leadership.”
“We need to be treated fairly and equally.” “None of the so-called charges have been verified, no investigation has even begun, and this whole process has been dishonest and unlawful,” Bryant concluded. The Black Girls Code board of directors later told TechCrunch that they organized a special committee to analyze and assess concerns regarding Bryant’s behavior made by current and former employees.
Bryant was placed on paid administrative leave last week “to ensure a comprehensive and fair review process,” according to the board, which appointed a special committee to investigate the concerns. Bryant named Heather Hiles, the founder of ed-tech business Pathbrite, as the person who eventually chose to suspend her “without a fair inquiry or verified complaints” in her statement.
Hiles responded in a text message to TechCrunch’s request for further details, saying, “The board has a fiduciary obligation to defend the business and the well-being of its workers.” I can certify that the latest operations are a result of that obligation being fulfilled.”
The board, via a representative, declined to comment on whether an inquiry is underway, the suspension procedure, or if Bryant was given any warning before being placed on leave. The board also declined to comment on the review’s current schedule.
Even though she accepted a payment in October 2021 sought by an ad hoc committee of the board of directors to engage a counsel to undertake one, the founder maintains there has been no ongoing inquiry. The board has constituted a special committee to “examine and analyze the allegations and determine what, if any, action should be done with respect to these issues,” according to a statement.
The committee is entirely made up of members of the BCG board of directors. Bryant launched Black Girls Code in February 2011 to help Black women and girls gain access to technology. The group has created 15 chapter locations in the United States and internationally since then, conducting technology workshops, hackathons, and other enrichment opportunities for over 30,000 Black girls, according to the organization.