An investigative piece published by The New York Times Saturday, details the extent to which at least 20 female employees of Vice Media have either experienced or witnessed sexual harassment in the workplace over the past decade. Despite its youthful staff and progressive image, Vice reportedly failed when it came to creating a safe work environment for women.
New York Times reporter Emily Steele uncovered that the progressive media outlet has paid legal settlements to at least four women who alleged sexual misconduct or defamation in the workplace. Andrew Creighton, the current President of Vice, paid $135,000 to a former employee who claims she was unfairly terminated after rejecting his sexual advances.
The report goes on to detail Vice’s company culture as a "boys' club" where women often felt degraded and uncomfortable. Incidents of inappropriate behavior often occurred at company parties and happy hours where women found themselves warding off kissing, touching and propositions for sex.
In November, The Daily Beast reported on the firing of Jason Mojica, former head of Vice's documentary film unit, over sexual harassment allegations. Mojica is also named in the Times report, and is accused of retaliating against an employee following a sexual relationship they shared. Abby Ellis, a former Vice journalist, says she ended up hitting Mojica with an umbrella after he tried to kiss her in the workplace. Helen Donahue, another former Vice employee, says he grabbed her breasts and butt at a holiday party.
Perhaps one of the most disheartening details of all was that HR allegedly looked the other way when these incidents were reported. Ellis in particular, was told that because she was an “attractive woman,” such behavior is to be expected.
In response to the NYT report, a lengthy statement was published by Vice co-founders Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi. “Listening to our employees over the past year, the truth is inescapable: from the top down, we have failed as a company to create a safe and inclusive workplace where everyone, especially women, can feel respected and thrive.” The statement also includes a short list of changes Vice has implemented to address their workplace safety issues, including the hiring of a Chief Human Resources Officer and starting a female-led diversity board. Vice is also reportedly working to close the pay gap between its male and female employees by 2018.
Head to the New York Times to read the full report.