Sharyn Bovat, a NISSAN whistleblower, is speaking to CoolSprings.com after she was jailed by Franklin police last Wednesday for what she has described as “an act of retaliation after whistle blowing against a Southern Good ole Boy Network”.
Bovat, a former executive relocation consultant for five major companies, managed the moves of several top NISSAN executives to Middle Tennessee. Bovat was asked by HR to relocate NISSAN board member Carlos Tavares, the first Executive Vice President & NISSAN Board of Directors member to reside outside of Japan. During the relocation process Mr. Tavares discovered more than he anticipated from the person assigned to ease his transition to life in America.
NISSAN North America is located in Middle Tennessee, known as the buckle of the Bible belt. Headquartered in the city of Franklin, which Bovat describes the community as a “who knows who” society. Employees at NISSAN knew she had access to Tavares and told her of discrimination, corruption, & wasteful spending of taxpayer money.
The State of Tennessee spent millions relocating NISSAN to the Cool Springs area of Williamson County. A large portion of those relocation expenses were paid by TN taxpayers. Several times Bovat inquired if “certain spending was OK”. In 2008 when asked by a French NISSAN Vice President to find a spa for oxygen facials, she documented the abusive spending of taxpayer money.
While she was asking NISSAN employees on the executive floor about spending issues, Bovat was told “skirts don’t speak”.
As the daughter of a former mayor-activist-lobbyist, she was taken by her mother in the late 60’s to marches to fight for women’s rights. After hearing those words in 2009 at a public company that was taking American taxpayer money, Bovat became upset and told Tavares.
When asked to describe the heart of the problem in Middle Tennessee, Bovat quickly points out a southern “Good ole boy” Network that permeated HR at the NISSAN North American HQ. Women in management declined 30% according to NISSAN’s own internal statistics. Bovat has said it was known inside HQ that “Good ole boys” were strategically replacing women with their unqualified buddies.”
In February 2009 Bovat learned the “Good ole boys” in HR had placed individuals in every division to “protect their own” during cutbacks caused by the economic crisis. She also discovered HR had planned to fire the Californians who relocated with NISSAN in 2006-2007 first. Disgusted with that policy Bovat remarked, “It was not fair; they uprooted their families to move to Middle Tennessee, only to be discriminated against”. Bovat told Carlos Tavares in March 2009, who stopped it from materializing.
After she “saved the Californians”, NISSAN’s HR Director called Bovat into four meetings. She sensed HR wanted to “get rid of her”, although she knew Tavares appreciated her efficiency and honesty. During one of those meetings, the Director of NISSAN HR asked Bovat to do something unethical to prove she was a team player. She refused. Bovat knew if she wanted to work for NISSAN she would have to comply. Bovat told Tavares, who then referred her to the HR Director’s supervisor Mark Stout, the head of NISSAN HR. In a later meeting on the executive floor, Mark Stout offered Bovat money to be silent. Instead of “cashing in” she told Tavares about HR being unethical.
Starting June 4 2009, Bovat has documented and stated the allegations on her public blog. Since then, Bovat says she has been harassed and slandered by NISSAN HR. Bovat wanted to keep quiet and expressed to Carlos Tavares that she wanted to return to work at NISSAN. Several months ago, Tavares emailed her to relay that things were proceeding.
But with the continued harassment, Bovat wrote an open letter on her blog to the ACLU, in an effort to locate an attorney to help with her civil rights and whistle blowing issues.
Looking for resolution, Bovat went to NISSAN HQ on July 7 2010, in hopes of receiving a time frame for positive change. When Bovat entered the lobby, she was instead greeted by the same people she has fought against for the last year.
Minutes later, several Franklin police cruisers arrived and officers filled the NISSAN HQ lobby, arresting Bovat for criminal trespassing. Bovat says,
“Rob from Nissan legal bullied the Franklin police into arresting me, using a year old, outdated photocopy of a cease and desist originally intended to intimidate me and to shut down my blog”.
Bovat has stated on her blog that she’ll take it down when Nissan’s Carlos Tavares asks her. When Bovat heard from Tavares several months he did not tell her to take down the blog. All the allegations Bovat has made, have been visible on her public blog for the past year.
Bovat says that fact alone give her credibility. Statistics from her blog show tens of thousands of visitors from six continents.
It seems like this skirt has spoken and people are now listening.
(The exclusive interview above with Sharyn Bovat took place Tuesday 7/13/10 in Cool Springs, TN)