A collection of Vice UK employees have called for the company to introduce measures to end the “boys club” atmosphere, including a request for the suspension of high-profile execs named as alleged abusers.
This follows a 4,000-word expose in the New York Times that called the $6 billion media empire a hotbed of sexual harassment with a slew of legal settlements, including one against its current president, Andrew Creighton.
The Vice UK workers’ collective, an anonymous group of employees from the youth firm’s Shoreditch-based office, called for the creation of an independent investigation into sexual harassment issues, similar to the one carried out by The Old Vic in light of the allegations against Kevin Spacey. The group also called for the “immediate suspension of named alleged abusers.” They said this includes Creighton, who was allegedly involved in a $135,000 USD settlement with a woman who claimed that she was fired after she rejected an intimate relationship with him.
“We are unsure how [Creighton] is being allowed to remain at the top of the company,” the group noted in a statement. “There should be immediate removal for those found to have participated in abusive practices. Mere words and promises are not enough if Vice is to convince contributors, partners, freelancers and, most importantly, the women in its employ, that the company is changing. It is difficult to see how the company can demonstrate that when it is still being run by people who oversaw habitual sexual harassment and tried to buy the silence of those that tried to speak out.”
The group also urged Vice to create an independent system where people feel empowered and comfortable to report harassment, and suggested all employees be given sexual harassment training in order provide a framework that may establish a safer working environment. It said that there needs to be an effort to diversify hiring and support and retain existing employees from minority backgrounds, and that workers should be given positions on the recently established Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board.
“Hiring a new corporate board in the US and staffing it with a majority of white women from the highest levels of the company does not resolve the deep-seated issues within Vice, especially as it is still unclear how this board will work, what its powers are, and to whom it is accountable,” it noted.
The group noted that they were “deeply disappointed and upset” by the findings of the NY Times exposé, but added they were pleased it opened up discussions about changes within the company. They particularly noted that many women join Vice at an “early and vulnerable” point in their career and, for some, sexual harassment has overshadowed their future in journalism and severely damaged their confidence.
“We stand in solidarity with all the survivors who have come forward. We believe them, and we believe that urgent change is necessary to make our workplace a fairer and safer place for all employees. The revelations that the company pays more for silence than in wages is abhorrent, as is the knowledge our co-workers and superiors have been involved in abuse.
“Our concerns should not be shrugged away as ‘boys will be boys’ nor as ‘banter.’ We must take active and thoughtful steps to alter the way in which this ‘boys club’ operates and perpetuates sexism and racism. We want Vice to be a voice against sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia and other forms of prejudice, and this cannot happen while as long as our workplace culture perpetuates any of these problems,” it added.