Tegna CEO Dave Lougee stays within the sizzling seat; Former black board candidate Adonis Hoffman accepts apology however tears up firm probe into valet parking incident – Deadline
Tegna CEO Dave Lougee’s apology to former board candidate Adonis Hoffman for a racist incident has been accepted, however Hoffman is stepping up criticism of the corporate’s response.
The back-and-forth happens towards the backdrop of a proxy battle for Tegna. The corporate has pushed again acquisition openings regardless of the preferences of a few of its non-public buyers. One stakeholder – the Commonplace Normal hedge fund – is asking for a board reshuffle and had initially nominated Hoffman for a seat.
In a sequence of occasions that have been absolutely disclosed earlier this month, Hoffman, who’s black, attended an trade luncheon in Washington in 2014, which Lougee additionally attended. The 2 spoke at size in the course of the occasion, Hoffman recalled. On the lodge’s valet parking afterward, Lougee, who’s white, handed Hoffman a ticket, complicated the long-standing machine in Washington media and regulatory circles for a valet.
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Lougee apologized on the day of the incident and on different events, together with after Hoffman withdrew his appointment to Tegna’s board. He cited the valet case as one of many causes he wouldn’t be capable of work constructively with Lougee. Hoffman was on an inventory of candidates put ahead by Commonplace Normal, which owns 9% of Tegna.
In a letter despatched to Lougee, a replica of which was supplied to Deadline, Hoffman mentioned he was not offended by the unique incident and accepted the apology. “Coming from a working-class household the place my grandparents have been home staff, I think about being a valet an honorable job,” he writes. “What I disagree with is that you simply didn’t disclose or settle for any accountability in your motion till it was made public final week. You even tried to take away the point out of the incident itself by providing to pay me on the time (I sincerely hope you’re kidding).
He continued, “You’re the CEO of a significant media firm that touches and influences the lives of thousands and thousands of People. As such, I’m deeply involved along with your skill to understand an individual of shade as one thing aside from invisible, insignificant, or in service to you. This lack of understanding and sensitivity is what consultants immediately name “unconscious bias”. “
Lougee took accountability for his actions in a be aware to workers earlier this month and mentioned Tegna would conduct an unbiased evaluate of the incident. Hoffman mentioned in a letter to Tegna’s board that the investigation shouldn’t be really unbiased because it entails a number of firm officers. An out of doors legislation agency solely had one interview, with Lougee, he mentioned. Hoffman mentioned he himself had not been contacted, questioning, “How will you have an intensive examination with out talking to a key particular person concerned?”
A spokeswoman for Tegna referred to Deadline to Lougee’s earlier letter when requested for a response to Hoffman’s newest accusations. Along with her apologies, Lougee underscored Tegna’s file by emphasizing range in her hiring practices. About 37% of Tegna’s new hires final yr have been individuals of shade, the corporate mentioned, and 25% of its 6,427 workers have been individuals of shade on the finish of 2020. “This unlucky incident underscores simply how a lot this work is vital for everybody. us, ”Lougee wrote.
Born years in the past from Gannett’s publishing property, Tegna competes in an trade that has seen rampant M&A exercise accelerated by dramatic modifications in viewership. Station teams like Tribune and Raycom have been engulfed in multi-billion greenback offers lately. Commonplace Normal believes that Tegna ought to have regarded extra rigorously on the potential transactions. Rival tv firm Grey Tv and personal fairness agency Apollo International Administration are amongst those that made affords to purchase Tegna, whose administration staff insisted they weighed all of the affords.
Hoffman first spoke in regards to the incident in 2015 in an interview with a commerce publication Multichannel information, however he omitted Lougee’s title from this account. He solely cited the CEO by title when he formally stepped down from the appointment as a part of the usual total effort to win board seats.