UPDATE: IABC's executive director Chris Sorek writes to clarify what he told me on the phone Friday: "On November 29, we notified 16 employees that they would be let go—10 immediately and six at the end of 1Q13. We are in process of posting openings for 11 new roles that will result in a net reduction of five staff in total by the end of 1Q13."
UPDATE: A phone conversation with IABC executive director Chris Sorek just now reveals that IABC yesterday laid off 10 members of the 32-person San Francisco headquarters staff. Five more people will be let go in the first quarter of next year. Others will be added, however, so the net loss of IABC staff will not be "more than half" as I first reported, but five people in all, according to Sorek. After all the realignment, the HQ staff will be 27. IABC's PR director Paige Wesley was among those let go.
Sorek seemed annoyed by the Sturm und Drang. "There's nothing shocking" about the layoffs, he said. "We're simply aligning our staff to our strategy, that's all." (Sorek described that strategy to me around the time that he took over the organization, in the summer.) Sorek said he needed some skill sets he didn't have, and the new organization will run much more efficiently.
Annoyed, and surprised. The IABC leaders with whom he has communicated with about the restucturing, "the reaction from people has been positive."
I'll keep an eye on the story. —DM
On Facebook, Lee Hornick, the conference chair for the International Association of Business Communicators, wrote at about 4:40 p.m. EST, "Just heard more than half the staff at IABC headquarters was let go. I am totally shocked."
"This is not the IABC way," he added. "I thought IABC was doing well."
Other IABC veterans chimed in, one indicating that prominent members had received an email yesterday from IABC's paid CEO Chris Sorek that said, "Realignment
of the structure to more fully deliver on the strategy will require
some staff changes. These will include a number of changes at the senior
level as well as some support staff."
"Changes and layoffs are not synonyms, last I checked," said longtime member and IABC Fellow Shel Holtz. "Kinda embarrassing for a communications organization, wouldn't you say? Would any of us counsel our clients or companies in this way?"
"Is there something going wrong at IABC that is not being shared with the member?" asked IABC Fellow Tudor Williams. "If this is true—what business communication strategy would keep members … in the dark on a Friday afternoon? This smells bad."
I'll attempt to get in touch with IABC headquarters this afternoon.