Paige Wesley, former VP of marketing and communication at International Association of Business Communicators, who was among the 16 staffers fired Nov. 30 by executive director Christopher Sorek, has posted 2,492 words on the staff cuts and their meaning for the association.
Wesley said that for many of those fired it was “a relief to be dismissed from an environment that in less than six months had gone from good to bad to seriously toxic.”
Sorek resigned in May.
She said she and others were surprised that so many of the younger staffers were also fired and guesses it is because IABC did not want to touch off a suit claiming age discrimination.
IABC posted a video in early December in which Sorek and chair Kerby Meyers explained the cuts.
Sorek got off on the wrong foot with the staff when he “immediately started barking orders at the 2012 annual conference where he was invited as a guest,” says Wesley.
"The shock and confusion of the staff played havoc with their ability to focus on the multitude of conference tasks," she writes.
On Nov. 30, she was called into Sorek's office after returning from lunch and told "my services were no longer needed at the organization…in less than 30 minutes, half the staff had been dismissed with ten members given their notice as a group and two being dismissed by phone."
Writes Wesley: "The office mood shifted from silence to stunned. What followed the deafening quiet were tears, nervous laughter and the obvious shock of such a sweeping termination."
Marketing Team Axed
The entire marketing and communications team was canned "at a time when IABC needed communication expertise to engage members, answer questions and share the story with many members who are passionate about the organization," she writes.
The information technology team was given three months' notice but later asked to stay "when it became evident that the technical network would be at considerable risk without staff."
Sorek at one point allegedly told Wesley that she was incompetent. She confronted him on this and from then on "his interaction with me became increasingly limited and his tone increasingly terse."
Wesley decided to write to the board in January of her experience, saying she felt she had a "moral obligation to be open" about what she knew.
Chair Kerby Meyers told her there would be an investigation by an independent "investigator/attorney" and that the board would "take steps to work with Sorek to address and correct behavioral issues."
Wesley, who has 30 years of experience in association management including ten as director of marketing and corporate relations and two years as PR staffer with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Assn., is pursuing consulting opportunities in leadership coaching and development and speechwriting.
She is at paige.wesley [at] rocketmail [dot] com.