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On Friday, CBS said it has hired an advisory firm called RALLY to help it figure out which women’s advocacy groups should get portions of the $20 million it is donating as part of its separation agreement with former CEO Leslie Moonves, who stepped aside Sept. 9 amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
CBS said it plans to announce recipients of grants by Dec. 14 and that RALLY, described as an “issue-driven communications firm that takes sticky political issues and moves them forward,” will help it identify worthy non-profit groups.
“This is a critical time in our country and in all industries and we are glad to see that preventing sexual assault and increasing equity in the workplace are becoming national priorities. Powerful companies have a responsibility to be leaders in changing workplace culture, and we are happy to bring RALLY’s expertise to this conversation,” said RALLY principal Lara Bergthold.
Moonves, who has denied claims from a total of 12 women who came forward to speak to Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker in two news stories, would have been due $180 million or more in severance if CBS were to let him go without cause, but he agreed instead to depart without any immediate compensation.
The agreement, laid out in an SEC filing, has the company holding $120 million for Moonves that he will or will not get depending on the results of an investigation into his alleged misconduct over decades of work at the Sumner and Shari Redstone-controlled company. The $20 million that RALLY is helping CBS spend presumably also would have gone to Moonves had he not been accused of mistreating multiple women.
“RALLY has a longtime commitment to supporting women and diversity in the workplace, both in our own firm and in the work that we do,” said Bergthold. “This is a difficult and important conversation, not just in the industry but in the country, and we are pleased to be supporting CBS in taking this critical step.”
RALLY and Bergthold said Friday that groups interested in competing for a slice of the $20 million should email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While Moonves is no longer CEO or a board member at CBS, the company has retained him for two years to help the transition to new leadership. For now, COO Joe Ianniello is interim CEO, but the company is looking for a permanent one.
While CBS isn’t paying Moonves a salary during the two-year stint, it is paying for his security detail and office space, which insiders say is near one of his homes in Beverly Hills or Malibu, and not on property owned or controlled by CBS.
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