IFI/VEX Response

By no means are we attempting to minimize an individual’s experience, but we are at a loss to understand why several employees who left our company as far back as 2016 would suddenly decide to begin posting negative comments now. We operate in an intensely competitive environment and attacks on social media/user forums have proven to be an effective way of tortiously interfering with someone’s business. The normal responses to this type of activity, such as litigation, are ineffective because of the time and cost involved and the inability for the truth to catch up with misinformation/disinformation.

Our company has an internal Human Resources Department and written policies regarding issues such as sexual harassment, intimidation or retaliation. Multiple women hold senior leadership roles throughout our organization, in addition to a diverse and inclusive global workforce.

Since its inception in 1999, we have employed more than 850 employees and interns. During this time our company has never been the subject of a complaint or litigation regarding these issues and has never been the subject of a complaint to the EEOC regarding sexual harassment. Additionally, we have no record of internal complaints by the employees who have been posting on these forums regarding their time with the company which ended years ago.

Any company, individual or organization can become the subject of an unfair or inaccurate attack on social media or these user forums. The attackers have no real fear of retribution and there is no third-party fact checking concerning their posts.
No organization is perfect, and we are certainly making every effort to ensure that our employees are aware of our policies and have multiple avenues to raise concerns.

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This is so bad I can’t tell if it’s a troll

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This can’t be real… Right???

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This is the official account, used for IFI statements dating back to 2007 at least.

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The account joined in '02 and I think mods would be extra careful to make sure an impersonation account wasn’t created. I believe the same text was also posted in the Vex forums.

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The same post was posted on the VEX forum on their Official VEX Account.mods, and RECF CEO, Dan Mantz.

https://www.vexforum.com/t/statement-to-rec-foundation-community/109171?u=sylvie

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If this statement went through lawyers, fire them

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That’s a different post content btw.

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How did you fumble your response this bad

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FACT: If this post is really from IFI, you’ve just done significantly more to tank your own reputation and business right here and now than any post by an individual.

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Thank you for pointing it out, theres been so many bad takes in the last few minutes ive lost track of things.

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You’d think that after skimping on Falcon QC costs, IFI would be able to afford actual PR services, but evidently not

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To a potential lawyer operating in Texas: Tony Norman has made your life worse and you don’t even know it.

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What motive would any of these individuals have to “interfere with [your] business”? As far as I am aware few if any of the employees who left work for competitors of IFI, and even if they did the implication that those people would fake these kinds of complaints purely for a business advantage is frankly unbelievable and comes off as a deflection from having to take any responsibility whatsoever.

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beyond disappointing

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Can’t even accept your own wrongdoing at your lowest point. Don’t know what I expected but this is certainly worse.

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So in other threads, I’ve advocated for showing some grace in the hopes that IFI could look introspectively at the issue and make change.

They clearly have shown themselves wholly incapable of that.

As such, I can only join the chorus of voices advocating for a complete change of senior leadership.

Anyone who thinks this statement is an acceptable response doesn’t deserve the good faith or trust of any working professionals or students who endeavor to join the STEM fields.

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I am angry beyond words. What kind of person do you have to be to come out and say that all of these people are wrong? How dare you. I honestly thought you couldn’t make it worse for yourselves and then you post this. Your former employees accuse you of gaslighting and that HR is in part of the problem and you have the audacity to say they are lying and in the wrong? Shame on you.

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“By no means are we attempting to minimize an individual’s experience, but we are at a loss to understand why several employees who left our company as far back as 2016 would suddenly decide to begin posting negative comments now.”

Let me stop you right there. Victims of abuse sometimes take DECADES to feel safe enough to come forward with complaints. The amount of time that has passed has ZERO impact on the initial abuse whatsoever. These people are brave to have come forward at all and I assume there are more employees that are still struggling to find the words to articulate their experience in the very best cases and some may fear retribution in the worst case.

This is an embarrassment to say the least. Not even going to comment on the rest of that post.

Here’s what you were looking to say…

We at IFI have taken the last few days to carefully read each person’s post about their experiences working for our company. We are ashamed and embarrassed by the experiences that some of our interns and employees have outlined about their time with our company. We sincerely apologize and we will be conducting an investigation using a third party into our corporate culture and we pledge to do better. But we will not be waiting for that investigation to be complete before we begin to make changes at IFI.

Beginning today, our Human Resources department has begun interviewing all employees to learn more about their feelings about the corporate culture at IFI. We enlisted a third party group to sit in on those meetings to document what was said and ensure there is no retribution against any employee for sharing their experiences. The primary purpose of these interviews is to discover more about our corporate culture and elicit ideas from our employees on how we can improve. This is paramount in for our long journey ahead to earn back the trust lost with the robotics community.

We have been so fortunate at IFI to have had the trust of the robotics community for so long and to lose it has been a hard thing to face. We want to thank those who shared their experiences and will be transparent with changes to our company that to be better representative of the community we serve and stewards of equality and tolerance in the workplace.

Again, we apologize sincerely and we will do better. You will hear from us again soon.

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This response is absolutely disgraceful. Gaslighting victims, blaming individual for their feeling intimidated and threatened by a toxic environment, dismissing claims of violence, racism, misogyny and assault. An exact example of the culture we are trying to address. You just basically reaffirmed everything that these individuals have come forward with by behaving this way.

This is not accountability.

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