CBS donates $20M of Les Moonves’ severance to women’s advocacy groups
On the day Les Moonves was forced out of CBS in September, $20 million from his severance was earmarked for donations.
With Moonves accused of sexual harassment and assault by numerous women, CBS said the money would go to organizations that combat harassment and promote workplace equality.
On Friday, the self-imposed deadline to announce the grant recipients, CBS named 18 groups that are receiving donations. Two of the groups will “disburse smaller grants to additional organizations,” CBS said.
With the help of an advisory firm called RALLY, CBS came up with three goals that underpin the initiative: “Increasing the number of women in positions of power, promoting education and culture change, and supporting victims of harassment and assault.”
In a joint statement, the recipients said “the contributions are a step to driving real progress toward ending the national epidemic of sexual violence and harassment.”
“We thank CBS for these donations,” the joint statement said. “We also recognize these funds are not a panacea, nor do they erase or absolve decades of bad behavior.”
The grantees include Catalyst, the Freedom Forum Institute’s Power Shift Project, the International Women’s Media Foundation, Press Forward, the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, and the Women’s Media Center.
One of the other recipients, RAINN, operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline.
“This generous support will make it possible for us to help tens of thousands more survivors,” the group’s president Scott Berkowitz said.
Moonves was not mentioned by name in the press release. It only said the “grant announcement is part of the Company’s separation agreement with the Company’s former chief executive officer.”
But the donations are a reminder that the company has yet to decide what to do about the rest of his severance. Under the terms of his enormously generous employment contract, Moonves was owed about $140 million. When he was ousted, $20 million was set aside for grants and the remaining $120 million was set up in a trust.
The money is still in a holding pattern while the CBS board determines whether Moonves could be fired for cause, giving the company reason to claw back the $120 million. According to a draft report by two law firms that was obtained by The New York Times, lawyers working for the board have found multiple reasons for the board to consider Moonves fired for cause.
Moonves has denied any nonconsensual sexual relations. His lawyer says he has fully cooperated with the law firm investigators.
It is unclear if the lawyers’ findings about Moonves and CBS will be made public. The grant recipients brought this up in the joint statement on Friday: “We look forward to receiving the full results of the investigation into Mr. Moonves and an update on additional concrete commitments that CBS – and all organizations – will make to support lasting change.”