Vice Media on Tuesday suspended two top executives over sexual harassment claims at the millennial news producer.
President Andrew Creighton and Chief Digital Officer Mike Germano are on leave, the company said in an internal e-mail that unveiled sweeping new measures Shane Smith’s company is taking to combat reports of widespread sexual harassment and a hostile “boys club” culture.
“It is a new year,” Chief Operating Officer Sarah Broderick wrote in the memo. “And a new year is a time for change — no more so than here at Vice.”
The shake-up follows a bombshell New York Times report Dec. 23 that Smith’ s edgy news company had settled at least four cases involving sexual harassment, including one involving a former employee who said she was fired after rejecting Creighton’s sexual advances.
The ex-employee was paid a $135,000 settlement, according to the report. Creighton said he considered the woman a “close friend” and that he had been intimate with her on occasion, but said he was not involved in the decision to let her go.
Vice said it had investigated the complaints and found them to be without merit. On Tuesday, the company said Creighton had agreed to go on voluntary leave while the company hires an independent outside firm to undertake a more comprehensive review.
A report from the outside firm, which reports to an independent board committee, will be presented to the board on Jan. 11.
Vice will also endeavor to bring women up to 50 percent of payroll by 2020, Broderick said. All employees worldwide will be required to undergo training to avoid sexual harassment.
In December, Jason Mojica, former editor-in-chief of Vice News and more recently the head of documentary news, was fired for allegedly failing to take proper action after a staffer in Los Angeles complained she was being harassed by her immediate superior.
Mojica confirmed he was one of three fired in late November but denied he had dismissed the employee’s complaints.
That report followed a November report in the Daily Beast that detailed how dozens of employees felt they had been the victims of sexual harassment at Vice going back more than a decade.
Vice co-founders Smith and Suroosh Alvi conceded to the Times that “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.”
Walt Disney and Twenty-First Century Fox are substantial investors, and Vice has a deal to produce a daily show that runs on HBO.
By Keith J. Kelly
Source: NY Post