After CEO Declan Kelly’s allegations of improper contact with women during a fundraising event, GM has given up Teneo as its public relations consultant, deepening its sweep of the company Crisis.
After the Financial Times disclosed on Thursday that Kelly had been expelled by the board of the non-profit organization Global Citizen and relinquished part of his responsibilities in Teneo after the incident, Teneo is working hard to assure its multinational clients, well-known consultants and 1,200 employees May 2nd.
However, on Friday afternoon, General Motors severed contact. “After a series of discussions, General Motors decided not to cooperate with Teneo,” the automaker told the Financial Times.
General Motors is the first customer to disclose that it has stopped working with Teneo on these allegations, which has heightened concerns about Kelly’s influence on the group’s critically important group in attracting leading executives as customers. Teneo recently won a GM customer, and Kelly has been advising its chief executive Mary Barra.
Global Citizen organized this celebrity gathering event. According to three people familiar with the matter, Kelly improperly touched some women without their consent. According to two people familiar with the matter, the company removed Kelly from the board of directors the next day and severed relations with Teneo thereafter.
until Financial Times storyInformation about Kelly’s behavior and his subsequent agreement to temporarily abandon part of his duties was not widely shared within Teneo. Except for the most senior employees, everyone else was blinded.
This news also put pressure on the private equity group CVC, which acquired a majority stake in the company for $350 million in 2019. The transaction valued Teneo at more than $700 million.
Christopher Stadler leads CVC’s operations in North America and manages the company’s investment in Teneo. He is also Chairman of Global Citizen.
According to people familiar with the matter, Stade participated in global citizenship activities, where Kelly was suspected of improper conduct. Stadler and CVC declined to comment.
Global Citizen told the Financial Times on Thursday: “On May 3, Global Citizen was notified of the incident. On May 3, Declan Kelly was removed from the board of directors.”
Stade himself has previously faced accusations of improperly touching women. In a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by a former CVC employee in 2016, it was said that he “caught”, “hug” and “spoiled” female employees. CVC denied these allegations, and the case was later resolved.
Teneo, which claims to be the world’s leading CEO consulting company, has grown into an influential and closely related strategy and communications company since it was co-founded in 2011 by Kelly and Doug Bander, former assistants of US President Bill Clinton.
The company’s customer roster includes lucrative employees from Fortune 500 companies such as Dow Chemical, General Electric, Coca-Cola, and Delta Air Lines. Most of its work for them has focused on reputation issues, and it has taken advantage of the broader tendency to portray itself as a responsible social actor.
Other customers contacted by the Financial Times either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.
Kelly, who claims to be a CEO whisperer, can help the world’s largest company weather a reputational crisis, and apologized to his senior leadership in a conference call on Thursday. He also sent a note to the employee stating that he was responsible for his actions.
The statement echoed the comments made by Kelly’s spokesperson. Kelly told the Financial Times on Thursday that he was “drunk” at the event and is now “committed to staying awake” and “receiving continuous consultation from healthcare professionals” .
On Friday, Teneo held a conference call to brief its senior advisers in the UK-a list including former Home Secretary Amber Rad and former British Conservative Party leader William Haig-they had not been informed before. Suspected of misconduct. One person in attendance said: “There was a call, but it was just asking questions and no one answered it.”
In the United States, the group’s advisors include politicians, such as former Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan, and former Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Lee Fries, former Xerox heads Ursula Burns and Ginny Rowland, former IBM chiefs Executive officer.