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Vice apologises for 'boys' club' culture after allegations of sexual harassment

Vice apologises for 'boys' club' culture after allegations of sexual harassment

Smith and co-founder Suroosh Alvi said in a statement to The New York Times following publication of the in-depth article 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".

Two co-founders of Vice Media are apologizing for a "boy's club" culture that fostered inappropriate behavior after an investigative report uncovered rampant sexual harassment at the New York-based company.

In a statement, Smith and Alvi said: "Cultural elements from our past, dysfunction and mismanagement were allowed to flourish unchecked".

More than two dozen women contacted the Times to describe sexual misconduct amid a culture of "male entitlement" at the company, which grew from a small magazine in Montreal into a global media empire. Despite its young staff and cutting-edge approach to news, the Vice Media culture apparently was very old-school when it came to coerced relationships and other workplace problems.

One of the settlements involved the digital media company's current president, Andrew Creighton, who paid a former employee $135,000 (£100,000) in 2016 after she claimed she was sacked for sleeping with him, the New York Times reported. Allegations involved a range of misconduct including sexual and racial comments, propositions for sex and unwanted kissing. Vice edited her response to "yes" and printed it under the headline "I Got Laid But Murs Didn't". According to records seen by the Times, Vice reached a settlement with Ms Hopper and printed a retraction.

Further, Vice has done away with the nontraditional workplace agreement that previously required employees to sign, something that some former staffers have pointed to in helped to foster a discriminatory environment.

Some employees said they understood the contract to be meant to prevent them from complaining about harassment.

The media company has since outlined measures it has taken to change its workplace culture. Some of those steps include building out an advisory board with big names like feminist activist Gloria Steinem and former Vice Media COO Alyssa Mastromonaco, attempting gender pay parity by the end of 2018, and expanding parental leave policies. Since then it has grown swiftly, receiving investment from major corporations.

The Times report suggests that Vice, which now has its own TV network, along with production deals with big channels like HBO, has worked over the previous year to curb harassment complaints, at least in part because company management knew the Times piece was in the works. Vice now counts Disney, 21st Century Fox and TPG as its investors and Smith has discussed his ambitions to take the company public.

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