Amidst concerns raised about sexual harassment within his company, Vice Media CEO Shane Smith promised "a new era of transparency" while avoiding the topic of misconduct. Hints about an impending massive New York Times exposé about sexual harassment at Vice have been floating around the internet, although Smith avoided addressing that as well.
According to The Huffington Post, Vice staffers were frustrated with Smith's state-of-the-union presentation, which didn't discuss any of the measures the company would or could take to curtail the culture of sexual harassment reported on by The Daily Beast. In their report, over a dozen female Vice employees complained about the prevalence of sexist comments, inappropriate touching, and pressure for women to have sex with their superiors.
“I think by about 10 minutes in, people started to realize they just weren’t going to talk about harassment at all,” an unnamed Vice employee said. Some staffers were seen walking out of the video presentation, demanding the issue be addressed.
“How do you expect to regain the trust of your staff if you spend months and months on this kind of video, and then when this horrible major news breaks, you don’t even bother addressing it in this big moment when everyone’s listening?” said another unnamed current employee.
Meanwhile, The Times appears to be sitting on their full report about sexual harssment at Vice. Vice staffers continue to be irritated about the company's silence on the looming article, first reported on by The Awl.
“Upper management hasn’t addressed the Times story at all, but everyone knows it’s coming," said an employee.
“That story is a shadow over all of us,” said another employee. “Every day you think, is this the day that it’s going to break?” One said that “there is a sense of, like, is this going to be so bad and is the company’s response going to be so insufficient that we’ll have to quit? It’s making it impossible to focus.”
“Our ongoing focus is to take all necessary actions to ensure Vice is a safe and inclusive workplace where all of our employees can flourish — one that is free of any bias, disrespectful behavior, sexual harassment, and assault — and are investigating all allegations of inappropriate conduct. We are working closely with both our employees and our advisory board," reads an official statement from a Vice spokesperson.
Shane Smith has sent the following in a follow-up email about his address: "I’d like to make it abundantly clear here and now: the behavior outlined in the recent Daily Beast article is unacceptable, and the fact that anything like this could happen at VICE is my and my senior management’s responsibility. VICE does not tolerate sexual harassment, abusive behavior, assault or retaliation, and just as we have in connection with the allegations in the Daily Beast, we will investigate and discipline inappropriate behavior of any kind. We will continue to investigate all allegations brought to the company’s attention, enlisting outside independent counsel when necessary."
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