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    Thursday, March 24, 2022

    Bento Africa Suspends CEO, Ebunoluwa Okunbanjo after ‘Toxic Workplace’ Report

    Bento Africa’s Board of Directors has recommended that the Chief Executive Officer, Ebunoluwa Okunbanjo takes some time off and be removed from any people-related decisions for the time being.

    This was disclosed in a news release posted on Bento Africa’s website yesterday.

    The conversation was sparked by a storypublished Monday (March 21) by Nigerian news platform TechCabal that detailed allegations of workplace abuse at Bento, attributing the toxic culture at the Lagos-based payroll management startup to CEO Ebun Okubanjo.

    The account of insane work hours, harsh criticism, and sudden firings touched such a nerve that a Twitter Space on the topic lasted nearly eight hours, spilling into Tuesday morning with over 91,000 listeners having joined and many reporting issues of abuse they faced at their own jobs.

    Even Netflix jumped into the conversation, tweeting that “Horrible Bosses 1 and 2 are now streaming sha.”

    The crackdown on Ebun was a result of alleged verbal abuse, which included unconscionable curse words, refusal to grant leave and time off, erratic termination of appointment without due process – essentially just deactivating their emails and Slack accounts.

    He was also accused of allegedly telling laid-off employees that they wouldn’t find work anywhere. Leave days and time off were dismissed as a fallacy, according to the report.

    Below is message from Bento

    As  is mandated to, Ebun informed the Board of Directors of Bento last Thursday that he had been asked to comment on an article about the workplace culture at Bento and that he expected that something of material impact will soon be published. As professional Investors and Operators, we were aghast at the defensive and escalatory first tweets of Ebun on the matter, which we quickly moved against. Our responsibility and charter is to the Company, not the founders we invest in.

    When we discovered the content of what was going to come out, we moved to do the following:

    Ensure that the current team is safe and free to speak freely. We voided any NDA’s that may have been in place and instructed Management to let the Team know they were free to speak to any journalist that contacted them.

    We began an active investigation into the current workplace culture at Bento and we broadened the scope when the article was released. We have also retained an external counsel.

    We instructed that Ebun take some time off and removed him from all people related decisions for now. Chidozie will now lead on this along with the country managers and functional heads.

    We are reviewing the HR and People practices and guidelines at Bento and will work with HR consultants and the company’s in house team to make sure that it is reflective of human values that drive sustainable performance.

    We are aware of the wider impact the conversation has sparked and we will lean into it, not just at Bento but across our personal portfolios – there is no place in the world for a workplace that isn’t healthy; it is unkind and does not build good companies.

    Due to the ongoing investigation which is being carried out by the external counsel, we will not be able to comment on individual issues raised for now. We however expect it to be quick and we will share our observations once concluded.

    There is no place in the world for tyranny and we will ensure Bento becomes the leading voice for the transformation of every workspace into psychologically safe spaces that allow all employees thrive.

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