Vice Media, the hip millennial content factory, has suspended its president Andrew Creighton and chief digital officer Mike Germano after allegations that they engaged in sexual harassment of female colleagues.
The decision was announced via a staff memo Tuesday morning by Vice COO/CFO Sarah Broderick and follows a damning report in The New York Times detailing a toxic culture that fostered misconduct.
Creighton paid out $135,000 in 2016 to a former female Vice employee after she claims she lost her job after she rejected a romantic advance from him, according to the Times’ investigation.
Despite the payout, Broderick wrote in her memo that the alleged incident involving Creighton was reviewed by an outside law firm and was “found to lack merit, but the company agreed to settle the matter in order to avoid the expense and distraction of litigation.” Nevertheless, the company is still reconsidering his employment and will reach a decision before the company’s Jan. 11 board meeting.
“In the meantime, Andrew has suggested, and we agree, that he remain out of the office on leave until the recommendation from the committee is made to Sr. management,” Broderick’s memo reads.
Multiple women have brought accusations against Germano. One former strategist, Amanda Rue, claimed that Germano told her in 2012 at a holiday party of the digital ad agency he founded that he declined to hire her “because he wanted to have sex with her.” Another women claimed he put her hand in his lap without permission at a company event in 2014.
More than 20 female Vice employees were victims of or saw instances of sexual harassment, according to the NYT report.
The memo states Germano will be on leave while Vice’s human resources department looks into the events with an external investigator.
Broderick also noted that the company will seek to have a 50-50 male and female employee ratio “at every level across the organization” by 2020 as well as pay parity by the end of the year.
The company’s actions also follow a letter from disgruntled employees who demanded that Creighton lose his job after he was “found to have participated in abusive practices,” the “collective of workers at Vice U.K.” wrote.
“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,” the letter states. “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,” a Medium post from the Vice employees read.
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