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‘We stand by our decision’ to fire viral employee Amy Cooper: Franklin Templeton CEO

In this article:
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Franklin Templeton President & CEO Jenny Johnson joins 'Influencers with Andy Serwer' to discuss the company's decision to fire Amy Cooper and its position on diversity & inclusion.

Video Transcript

ANDY SERWER: Jenny, I have to ask you about what must be a difficult situation for your company. And that is last May, a video went viral of a Franklin Templeton employee, Amy Cooper, calling the police about a Black man who was bird watching in Central Park. She was fired and has since sued the company. What did you learn from that saga?

JENNY JOHNSON: You know, one of the things that I-- and obviously, since it's under litigation, I have to be a little careful when I talk about it. But, you know, I would say, just in general, I've been in a couple of situations where social media got it wrong. And it's difficult as a CEO and as a firm when social media doesn't have it right. And you need to stand by people. In the case of that situation, we stand by our decision. We felt and we feel confident in the due diligence we did and the process to make our evaluations our decision. And we stand by that decision.

But I think that the world has gotten to the point where social media comes to very quick decisions without all the facts. And that gets hard for companies. And I had this conversation with some employees over an issue recently. And my comment to those employees was, here's why social media doesn't have the facts right on this particular situation. And here's why we're going to stand by and I am going to stand by our decision.

Because you want to work for a company where the firm has your back. That if people don't get the facts right, you don't-- that the company just doesn't throw you under the bus. And I think the only way that I would feel good or any of my leadership team feels good is, is we try to make those decisions based on what we believe are being fair or standing by our values and even though sometimes it means taking the heat in the short run.

ANDY SERWER: And just one quick follow-up question on that and I appreciate this, did you communicate firmwide about this particular scenario?

JENNY JOHNSON: The one I was referencing?

ANDY SERWER: No, the--

JENNY JOHNSON: Or the--

ANDY SERWER: The one with this particular employee.

JENNY JOHNSON: The Amy Cooper in May or the one--

ANDY SERWER: Amy Cooper one, or both-- I don't know. I mean--

JENNY JOHNSON: Yeah, well, so I mean, it was fairly public, right? We came out pretty quickly. We had-- a SWAT team had gotten together that represented a lot of different parts of the firm. We did an evaluation of the situation. And then we communicated both internally and externally really about the same time. I think it's important to do.