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CBS Corporation to donate $20 million to Time's Up and 17 other groups after Les Moonves ouster

Time's Up Legal Defense Fund and Time's Up Entertainment are among the 18 recipients of a $20 million donation from CBS Corporation, an amount determined when Leslie Moonves was pushed out as CEO over sexual misconduct allegations, according to a press release issued Friday. The money was earmarked for groups focused on "eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace."

The Time's Up groups, which have been vocal in their criticism of Moonves, will receive a combined $2 million of the sum, according to a separate press release from the organization Friday. The funds will be used in part to launch an initiative called "Who's in the Room," aimed at increasing female representation in the entertainment industry.

The funds to all the groups will be distributed within 60 days of execution of the agreement, according to a person familiar with the arrangement. The amount each group will receive was based on their proposal and "capacity to absorb funds relative to their annual budgets."

When Moonves exited in September, CBS said the $20 million would come out of Moonves' potential severance package of $140 million. That still leaves a possible $120 million for Moonves, unless he is found to have been terminated for cause. The CBS board has until Jan. 31 to determine whether it will make the payment.

While Moonves was not involved in selecting the groups, his attorney had to approve the decision, according to a second person familiar with the process. Rally, an issue-driven communications firm, worked with CBS management to select the groups that fell within three buckets: pipeline and leadership development; training, education and culture change; and victim's support, according to an internal memo from Laurie Rosenfield, CBS' recently appointed chief people officer.

In a joint statement Friday, the groups said: "Our organizations serve on the front lines of this effort every day, and we continue to see enormous need for our work. We know these funds will help us create and expand a range of important programs that advance our collective mission and help many individuals get justice." They thanked CBS for the donations, and added, "We also recognize these funds are not a panacea, nor do they erase or absolve decades of bad behavior."

The donation comes out of Moonves' potential multi-million-dollar exit package, the fate of which has not yet been determined. When Moonves left CBS, the board placed his severance payout in legal limbo while an investigation was conducted to determine whether his actions were in breach of the company's sexual harassment policies.

If it is determined CBS can end his employment for cause, Moonves could walk away with nothing. The board has until Jan. 31, 2019, to announce the investigation's findings and the fate of the the former executive's severance package, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

A pair of New Yorker articles in August and September accused the media giant of sexual misconduct against 12 women ranging from the 1980s to the mid 2000s. Hours after the second piece published, CBS announced Moonves' departure, the investigation into the allegations and the $20 million donation to support the #MeToo movement.

Some have said that's not enough. Time's Up issued a letter in September following the announcement, calling for the board to donate the entirety of Moonves' potential severance package. If the investigation finds that Moonves is not owed any of the exit funds, CBS has said that the money will be "distributed to the company," according to an SEC filing. 

"That is $120 million dollars that will either go to Mr. Moonves or back into the coffers of the company that allowed the culture created by Mr. Moonves to continue," Time's Up wrote in a letter to the CBS board. "Or that $120 million can create change by going to organizations – and there are many impactful organizations – that can help women of all kinds. The choice is yours."

Time's Up reaffirmed their position in Friday's press release, saying that "by making a historic decision, [CBS] can send a powerful message  that  men cannot act badly without  substantial consequence. The significant amount of remaining funds should be used to create impactful and enduring change."

Here is a full list of the recipients:

Pipeline and Leadership Development

  • Catalyst
  • Free the BidInternational Women's Media Foundation
  • STRIVE International
  • Sundance Institute's Momentum program
  • TIME'S UP Entertainment
  • Women in Film Los AngelesWomen's Media Center

Training, Education and Culture Change

  • Collaborative Fund for Women's Safety and Dignity (through Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors)
  • Freedom Forum Institute – Power Shift Project
  • Futures Without Violence
  • National Women's Law Center
  • The New York Women's Foundation
  • Press Forward
  • Producers Guild of America Foundation

Victim's Support

  • Girls for Gender Equity / The 'me too.' Movement
  • TIME'S UP Legal Defense Fund
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