Steph Korey, the co-CEO of luggage company Away, will step down within a year, co-founder Jen Rubio and co-CEO Stuart Haselden said to staff today, after employees expressed concerns about Korey’s recent social media behavior.
“Steph’s personal social media activity does not reflect the company’s current priorities,” wrote Rubio and Haselden. “We are behind you, our employees.”
The news follows Korey who left the CEO position last year and returned as co-CEO in early January.
Korey initially retired after an investigation by The edge in December 2019, highlighting employee concerns about Korey’s management style. Customer experience team employees felt particularly overworked and undervalued and disagreed with the way Korey spoke to them. In a colorful anecdote, Korey told a group of customer experience employees that she would stop approving their paid time off and work from home to teach them the “skill of responsibility.”
After The Verge’s published in December, Korey stepped down as CEO, saying she genuinely regretted what she had said and added, “I can imagine how people felt reading those past messages because I was shocked to read them yourself. ” But she came back as co-CEO in January, telling the New York Times it was a “mistake to fall on her sword.”
Earlier this week, Korey posted a series of Instagram media stories. “Several of these digital outlets have almost no existing editorial standards,” she wrote. “… I could write a very special essay on how to more easily prosecute defamation lawsuits now that misrepresentation is the business model.”
The reports confused a number of workers who felt that her decision to write about the media in the middle of her maternity leave, rather than Black Lives Matter of Pride, made a bad impression on the brand. “Why is this when she chose to be present and speak?” they asked. “It is clear that Steph Korey is committed to her own reputation for the well-being of the company and its employees.”
Employees shared these feelings in an anonymous letter to Rubio and Haselden. While Rubio and Haselden ran the company in the absence of Korey, the employees expressed concerns about what will happen when she returns. Her own actions (including removing the only apology she ever made followed The edge article) prove that she has not learned or grown from the incident in December, “they wrote. “More than ever, we need compassionate and empathetic leaders who care about the company and its employees. Based on her recent activity, we are concerned and concerned about what life at Away will look like when she returns. ”
Thursday Rubio and Haselden responded to the letter. “Steph’s posts do not reflect or influence our current business priorities and the in-depth work we do on diversity, equality and inclusion,” they wrote. “We hear that these messages, from a co-CEO, are diverting our attention as a company, and we are sorry that this has caused some of our employees pain and put unnecessary negativity and pressure on our community teams. We especially recognize the additional emotional strain on our Black, POC and LGBTQIA + teammates. ”
They also told employees that Haselden would become the sole CEO in 2020 – a timeline that was previously not public.
Korey followed with her own note in Slack. She did not apologize for her reports, although she said that the way female founders are featured in the media is “far from the main topic” in her mind.
A current employee who has been with the company for years said it The edge: “There is a general feeling that she got off easily in December […] without being accountable. If she doesn’t address these issues directly, people will get angry. ‘
The edge has contacted Away for comment; this story will be updated when the company responds.
The full letter from Haselden and Rubio to Away employees is below:
This note is clear from people who care about the company and we would like to thank you for your courage to share your thoughts.
Steph’s posts do not reflect or affect our current business priorities and the in-depth work we do on diversity, equality and inclusion. We hear that these messages, from a co-CEO, are a distraction from our focus as a company, and we are sorry that this has caused pain to some of our employees and put unnecessary negativity and pressure on our community teams. We especially acknowledge the additional emotional strain of our Black, POC and LGBTQIA + teammates. There is nothing we do now that is more important than building and executing our DEI plan to become an anti-racist company.
We want to let you know that we can create any safe space you need to come forward and speak to any member of the leadership or the People & Culture team in person. Of course, we also respect your desire to remain anonymous – we hear and appreciate you.
In answer to your questions:
1. We would like to expressly state: We stand behind you, our employees. Steph’s personal social media activities do not reflect the company’s current priorities.
2. Steph returns from maternity leave in August and contributes in the same capacity as before maternity leave. Stuart will assume the role of sole CEO, that will appear on the original timeline (within 2020).
3. Steph has updated her Twitter and Instagram profiles to reflect that her views are her own.
Once again, thank you for sending this note – we know the determination it took to write and we want to repeat our commitment to create a safe space for you to share your concerns. We promise to continue working to make Away a great place for everyone.
Jen and Stuart