Equitas Health CEO Bill Hardy resigns amid claims of racial discrimination

Erica Thompson
The Columbus Dispatch
Equitas Health CEO Bill Hardy

Equitas Health CEO Bill Hardy has resigned effective immediately, an internal email and announcement on the organization's Facebook page said Saturday.

The decision was made following claims of racial discrimination at the Columbus-based LGBTQ+ health provider revealed in an Oct. 5 report by the Columbus Dispatch.

More:Former Equitas Health staff condemn 'disrespectful, degrading and dehumanizing treatment' of Black employees

"We are at a juncture that requires both the board and senior leadership to take a deep and introspective look at where we are — and who we are — to ensure we have the right leaders in place to continue to fulfill our important mission," said Sam Rinehart, chairman of the Equitas board of trustees, in the email. "We are working closely with the leadership team to begin the healing process and create a stronger, more inclusive culture that reflects our shared values and priorities." 

The board will identify an interim CEO and conduct a "robust search" for a permanent replacement, according to the email. 

A native of Pennsylvania, Hardy resides in Maineville, northeast of Cincinnati, and worked out of Equitas Health's Dayton offices. He became CEO in 1993. 

Previously known as AIDS Resource Center Ohio, Equitas Health was founded in 1984 to assist in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Under Hardy's leadership, the organization transitioned from a social services nonprofit to a health-care provider, serving the LGBTQ community throughout Ohio and Texas.

Today, Equitas Health encompasses medical centers, pharmacies, mental health services and neighborhood initiatives. The organization, one of Columbus' largest nonprofits, has about 500 employees and generated $56 million in revenue for the year ended June 30, 2020. 

After current and former employees of color came forward with allegations of mistreatment, Equitas Health announced plans to hire a chief people and culture officer and implement other diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

More:Equitas Health responds to racism claims as community groups call for change in leadership

The board also has retained Lawrence & Bundy LLC to conduct an independent investigation into claims of racial discrimination, which will begin next week, according to a statement sent to The Dispatch by Chief Development Officer Robert Copeland

Still, community organizations and staff members called for Hardy and other members of senior leadership to step down immediately

More:Sponsors pull out of Equitas conference while medical staff call for CEO's resignation

“I think we need a change in leadership so we can restore the confidence in the organization for our patients and our employees,” Equitas Health physician J. Eric Questel said in a previous interview with The Dispatch. "I love my community. And I want to work here, but I want the administration held accountable.”