On December 23, a thorough report in The New York Times revealed a culture of sexual misconduct at the edgy media company Vice. Among other offenses, the Times article detailed a workplace dominated by men, numerous allegations of harassment and groping, and several settlements with female employees who said they faced career trouble after failed romantic relationships with failed supervisors.
As the damning story spread across the internet, Vice’s co-founders authored a lengthy response. In an apology letter published to the company’s website, Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi said they “let far too many people down” by allowing such a toxic culture to fester. They also announced several changes in hopes of repairing Vice’s image and making its workplace a more safe and welcoming place for women.
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,” reads Smith’s and Alvi’s letter. “Cultural elements from our past, dysfunction and mismanagement were allowed to flourish unchecked. That includes a detrimental “boy’s club” culture that fostered inappropriate behavior that permeated throughout the company.”
The strides Vice will take to root out its long-standing issues will include updates to its HR department, the promotion of executive Sarah Broderick to the role of Chief Operating Officer, and the launch of an advisory board whose members will include feminist icon Gloria Steinem and lawyer Roberta Kaplan. The company’s co-founders hope that by increasing the power granted to female employees, they can create a safer space while still delivering the rule-breaking reporting for which Vice is known. “We can no longer be a part of the problem – particularly if, as journalists and storytellers, we want to investigate and cover the many injustices in the world today,” said Smith and Alvi.