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After her claim that she was ousted by “Black Girls Code,” a foundation she built from the ground up, Kimberly Bryant has released an official statement. She wants supports to know she’s not backing down after having her foundation snatched away from her.
Bryant previously worked in pharmaceuticals and biotech before founding Black Girls Code in 2011. The nonprofit teaches young, Black girls web design, app development, and robotics through workshops, summer camps, and other programs.
The Board of Directors claims that she was placed on suspension while investigating “serious allegations of workplace impropriety.”
Bryant says it simply isn’t true. She says the Board is simply following a pattern of disempowering strong Black, women leaders.
“Today I call out the agenda to adversely impact a small, women-founded, women-led nonprofit and the chilling precedent of strong leadership against women of color,” her statement reads in part.
Bryant also reasserts her mission for the company in the lengthy statement. She says that her work with the foundation is not done and that she will not be silenced.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Bryant doubled down on her initial denial of any wrongdoing.
“First and foremost, I know that I have not personally done anything unethical, immoral, or illegal as the Founder and CEO of Black Girls Code,” read the statement. “As a founder who has built something from her own blood, sweat, and tears from the ground up, this fight for me is about justice and giving rights to founders, especially women in leadership. We must be treated fairly and just.” Bryant’s statement continued: “None of the so-called allegations have been substantiated, no investigation has even started, and this entire process has been dishonest and unlawful.”
TechCrunch spoke with five former employees of Black Girls Code anonymously, who appeared to back up the Board’s claims.
“People stayed because they figured out the workarounds,” said one of the former employees. “Someone said that it was to your benefit to stay off her radar, and if you could figure out how to execute your work even without access to specific systems, you’d be fine.”
The Black Girls Code Special Committee of the Board of Directors also sent the following statement to ABC7 News:
“First and foremost, the Special Committee and the entire Board are committed to their fiduciary duties to Black Girls CODE and to our incredible community – including our supporters, partners, and dedicated staff. Earlier this year, the Board received or became aware of concerns raised by current and former employees about Ms. Bryant’s conduct. On October 5, the Board formed the Special Committee to review and evaluate the complaints and determine what, if any, action should be taken with respect to these concerns. To ensure a full and fair review process, earlier this week, the Special Committee placed Ms. Bryant on paid administrative leave. Ms. Bryant remains employed and will be paid in full during her leave. We have appointed an interim executive director to serve while this process is ongoing. Because this is an ongoing review and because of our respect for the privacy of Ms. Bryant and all others involved, we do not intend to make further public comments until the review has been completed.”
Despite the discord, Bryant told the news outlet that she fully supports the investigation.
“I absolutely support an investigation because I feel that I will be fully, fully vindicated, there’s not anything that I’ve done that has been wrong. I don’t see a way that I wouldn’t be a part of Black Girls Code in some way in the future,” Bryant said.