Mary Beth Maxwell, who is white, previously worked for Barack Obama’s administration.
Maxwell was exposed in an email sent to staff by HRC President Chad Griffin which was obtained by Politico.
The email said an investigation was launched after an employee had complained about Maxwell’s use of the term.
The preliminary findings of the investigation were found on Monday and Maxwell was suspended without pay, and on Wednesday the full findings were published, which is when she resigned.
The Foundation is a non-profit that runs educational programs focusing on a range of issues including HIV, youth issues and religious outreach. It also publishes the organisation’s Corporate Equality Index.
In Griffin’s email to Maxwell was not named and was referred to using “they” pronouns and described as “a senior staff member”.
The President of HRC also wrote that Maxwell did not use the term with intent to insult someone else at HRC, and said that in the first incident she “recounted an upsetting personal story in which the term was used.”
“In the second instance she repeated the word in describing an external situation that they found horrifying, in which racial and homophobic slurs were used,’ Griffin wrote.
“I share this context because the lesson learned here is that not having bad intent in using the word does not make it acceptable,” Griffin added. “I want to be clear: intent does not matter. It is the impact of the word that matters.”
“It simply is never acceptable for that word to be said by an employee in the workplace, period.”
Griffin acknowledged that, because of the work HRC does, they are going to have to discuss hate speech. “But it’s our job to respond to these incidents in ways that are appropriate and don’t compound the harms done,” he wrote.
He also noted that HRC will have “a formal policy on our expectations and requirements of staff in responding to or discussing hate speech”.