Komen CEO Nancy Brinker’s 'Apology' Makes It Worse

nancy brinker of komen

The founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Nancy Brinker, has come out with her first public statement since her organization reversed its decision to donate to Planned Parenthood and top official Karen Handel resigned, and it's pretty much an insult to anyone with half a brain.

In an letter to Washington Post columnist Sally Quinn, Brinker apologizes for "mishandling the situation" and then goes on to admit that she "made some mistakes." Unfortunately for her and us, she glosses over the specifics mistakes and leaves out the most important one of all.


Here's the part of Brinker's letter with the most "substance" (although I'm hesitant to even call it that):

If I have learned nothing else from our experience of the past week, it is that we in women’s health organizations must be absolutely true to our core missions, and avoid even the appearance of bias or judgment in our decisions.

I made some mistakes. In retrospect, we have learned a lot and must now rebuild the trust that so many want to have in us, and respond to the many thousands who continue to believe in our mission and do what we do best: the funding of cutting-edge science and to bring that work to our communities to help the hundreds of thousands of women we serve each year.

There are a lot of words and not much meaning here, but it sounds like the "mistake" she's apologizing for is getting caught using her charity to politicize women's health. And that's not good enough. I want her to apologize instead for being a weak and ineffective leader. How else would you describe a CEO who let her charity be used like a political organization, reversed the decision when people called them out on it, and then failed to make changes in her organization to ensure this would never happen again?

Now, it's true that it takes a strong person to apologize in the first place -- I'll give Brinker some credit for that. But we don't just want a strong person at the head of Komen, we want a strong leader running one of the biggest women's health organizations in the country. And what does a strong leader do in this case if she's truly sorry? She not only says "I apologize," but she admits what she did wrong in a clear, meaningful way, explains how and why the offensive occurred in the first place, and has not just a promise that it will not happen again but also a strategy in place to back it up.

For those of us who want more from our leaders, Brinker's "apology" is a bunch of empty blather.

What do you think of Nancy Brinker's "apology"?


Image via cliff1066/Flickr

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