Five people briefed on the matter said Kelly behaved inappropriately at a party on May 2 linked to the high-profile concert hosted by Global Citizen. It was chaired by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and featured artists including Jennifer Lopez.
Two of these people and one person with first-hand knowledge claimed that the inappropriate behavior included non-consensual touching of a number of women.
“At a large cocktail party that night attended by dozens of people, including board members and guests from Global Citizen, Mr. Kelly became intoxicated and behaved inappropriately towards some women and men at the event, ”said a spokesperson for Kelly, who added that he“ deeply regrets his actions ”and apologized to those he had offended.
The next day, Global Citizen removed him from its board of directors, according to two people briefed on the matter, while another said Kelly had been asked to resign. Global Citizen has launched an independent investigation into the episode, which is not yet complete.
In a statement in response to questions from the Financial Times on whether Kelly improperly touched women at the event, Global Citizen said, “On May 3, Global Citizen was made aware of the incidents and on May 3 May, Declan Kelly was removed from his post. ”
The organization’s board is chaired by Christopher Stadler, an executive at CVC Capital Partners who led the private equity firm’s $ 350 million investment in Teneo in 2019. The deal gave him a controlling stake and valued Teneo at $ 700 million.
The incident raises questions about the future of Teneo, the 1,200-person public relations firm at the helm of Kelly, which has called itself “the world’s leading CEO consultancy.”
Kelly remains chairman and chief executive, but has told senior colleagues at the firm that he is handing over some of his duties to other members of the global management committee.
His spokesperson said he had “temporarily reduced his professional responsibilities”, was “committed to sobriety” and “took continuous advice from medical professionals”.
Kelly, who worked for years with Global Citizen, was an organizer of the event called Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World, which sought to rally support for wider distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine.
The event featured messages from public figures including Pope Francis and US President Joe Biden.
Artists from Lopez to Selena Gomez conducted red carpet interviews in front of a backdrop emblazoned with the logos of Teneo and several of his clients, including Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines.
Kelly is known for advising some of the world’s largest companies on how to position themselves as responsible social actors.
“It’s absolutely clear now that unless you connect your purpose and values to all of your stakeholders and the rest of the world, you will be left behind,” he said in a promotional video for Global Citizen in February.
Kelly, who was appointed by Hillary Clinton to be the US State Department’s Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland in 2009, called on her political and corporate connections to support Global Citizen’s fundraising gigs.
His job change at Teneo comes six months after his co-founder, Doug Band, resigned following an article detailing the severing of his relationship with former US President Bill Clinton, whom he helped launch. Clinton Global Initiative.
Kelly and Band founded the company in 2011 and it has since grown aggressively through a series of deals, investing in WestExec Advisors, a Washington geopolitical risk consultancy, in March and finalizing the acquisition of the Deloitte UK restructuring services practice earlier this month.
Highlighting Teneo’s influence in business and politics, his list of senior advisers includes former CEOs of Dow Chemical, IBM and Xerox as well as Paul Ryan, former speaker of the US House of Representatives, and William Hague, former leader of the UK Conservative Party.
Amber Rudd, a former UK Home Secretary, joined last year as a senior adviser.
Prior to founding Teneo, Kelly held several communications roles, most notably at FTI Consulting, where he served as an executive following the acquisition of Financial Dynamics, a public relations firm, where he was a member of the executive team. .
In April, Kelly co-founded a new investment firm called Integrum Holdings, described as an innovative, mission-driven company focused on “technology-based services”.