Consumer Reports CEO Marta Tellado sent out the following to the staff:
As a mission-driven organization, we have a profound obligation to deliver trusted information, especially when it’s in short supply. And we must continue to hold big companies and powerful interests accountable in order to create a more fair and just marketplace. Our mission remains unchanged after over 85 years, and we must ensure we can deliver on it in a challenging external landscape.
At the end of July, we talked about the financial headwinds facing CR. Nonprofits like ours have had to adjust as costs have been going up, while consumer sentiment has been sliding down and our digital orders have decreased. We also talked specifically about our commitment to continue investing for our future while simultaneously reducing $10 million in expenses, which is 4% of our annual budget.
This is a tension we are holding: to prepare ourselves for the realities of the future while meeting the demands of today. We have sought to make these changes in a way that elevates the talent present on our teams while finding ways to limit expenses, stretch resources, and improve our processes.
We were able to find approximately one third of our savings from general expense reductions and another third by eliminating job vacancies that are not aligned with our strategic priorities. But the hard reality is that we must focus and prioritize, and that means we have also eliminated some existing staff positions.
As of this morning, we have met with each staff member who will be leaving our CR community this week. We are committed to providing them with the information and assistance they need during this transition. We said in July that our objective would be to provide support for anyone who was leaving the organization, and that’s what we’ve strived to do by providing severance and extending COBRA health benefits coverage to those individuals. And in a few instances, we have been able to reassign staff to other positions where there is a fit.
Having colleagues depart who have dedicated themselves to our mission is not easy. They have been our colleagues, yes, but also our valued teammates and friends. Out of respect for them, we will not be sharing their individual names here. However, each person has been encouraged to share this news in the way that feels most appropriate for them.
The decisions we have made to focus and streamline our work are strategic pivots to ensure the success, resilience, and strength of this remarkable institution.
Some of those changes also include changes to our leadership team. Social Impact’s leadership prioritized empowering staff in the next phase of work to ensure greater ownership of the strategy. Shar Taylor has made the decision to step down from her current role as she prepares to leave CR at the end of February to have the flexibility to spend more time in the UK. David Friedman, Vice President of Advocacy, offered up his position and is leaving CR after five years of leveraging his vision, strategy, and passion in the pursuit of more just policies for all consumers. We deeply appreciate his commitment to CR and his thoughtful contributions to our success.
I am pleased to announce that Sharee McKenzie Taylor, Vice President of Community & Corporate Engagement, is being promoted to Chief Social Impact Officer and will now be a member of the Executive Team. Sharee has a strong vision for the way CR can show up and generate change in the world at an absolutely crucial time for consumers.
In order for CR to gain relevance and maximize consumer impact and revenue in a fast changing digital landscape, we must prioritize a data transformation. Data has been, and always will be, a strategic asset for CR, and now more than ever we need to derive more value from CR data to support our mission. So we’re creating a Data Science Team led by two internal promotions: Kristen Purcell, Chief Research Officer, is being promoted to VP, Chief Research and Analytics Officer, and Suman Veeramalla, Director, Data Engineering, is our new Senior Director, Chief Data Officer. Together, Kristen and Suman will be working with their new teams to create a data science center of excellence that will include research, analytics, governance, and engineering.
These changes usher in new ways of working, and with that comes the departure of Liam McCormack whose 13 years of leadership as Vice President, Research, Testing & Insights, positioned CR for this next phase. Liam will be leaving CR to pursue his next chapter and to spend more time with his family in the UK. We are grateful for his foresight and commitment to our future and wish him well in his next chapter. Liam built an extraordinary team which allowed us to promote from within.
I am pleased to announce that Lilian Kayizzi, Director, Lab Operations, is being promoted to Senior Director and will be acting head of this division now called Testing and Insights.
I want to thank every single person who makes CR possible, with the deepest respect for the talent, work, and dedication you bring to this organization. The evolution of CR will continue in order to meet the dynamic nature of the times in which we live and the rapidly changing nature of the products and services consumers are searching for.
We’ll be walking through the strategic pivots we are making at Friday’s town hall. I hope you’ll join me to continue this conversation about the road ahead for CR.
With great appreciation,
A company spokeswoman told Talking Biz News that the company is “eliminating 28 vacant positions, [and] it was necessary to eliminate a number of filled positions, affecting just over 20 of nearly 600 staff.”
She added, “In order to accelerate new offerings and set CR up for future success we are currently hiring for a number of new positions to generate new products and services. We are making critical investments in specific growth areas to pilot innovations that will deliver trusted information to meet the ever-evolving consumer needs in a constantly changing marketplace. Our aim is to reach more people with new innovative digital content and tools, along with the trusted information that millions of consumers depend upon.”