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Vice Media CEO and co-founder Shane Smith has vowed to change the “boys club” atmosphere at his organization that led to inappropriate behavior documented in an investigative report released Saturday.
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.”
Smith and Alvi said the issues documented in the piece “happened on our watch and ultimately we let far too many people down. We are truly sorry for this.” They also expressed “extreme regret for our role in perpetuating sexism in the media industry and society in general.”
► Friday: 131 accused of sexual misconduct in ‘Harvey Weinstein effect’
► June 28: Vice retracts stories about President Trump’s Disney robot
► December 2013: Vice Media cranks up news operations
Smith has led the transformation of Vice to an international media company with a most recent valuation at $5.7 billion, an estimated 3,000 employees, a television network called Viceland, a film-production company, an HBO daily news show and an HBO documentary program.
Earlier this year, Vice Media raised $450 million from private equity firm TPG, a sign that it has been considering becoming a publicly traded company, Fortune magazine reported. How this news would affect its valuation or any decision to have an initial public offering wasn’t immediately clear.
The Times reported that it found four legal settlements involving allegations of sexual harassment or defamation against Vice employees, including the current president, Andrew Creighton.
Reporters spoke to more than two dozen women who say they experienced or witnessed sexual misconduct at the company, episodes that included groping and forced kisses.
On Nov. 30, after a report in The Daily Beast on Vice’s culture, the company announced that it had terminated three employees “for behavior that is inconsistent with our policies, our values, and the way in which we believe colleagues should work together.”
Vice also announced in November it had formed a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board, which includes feminist icon Gloria Steinem, whose Woman series on Viceland was nominated for an Emmy in 2016.
Vice told the Times it has hired a new head of human resources, updated its sexual harassment policies and clarified sexual harassment reporting procedures.
Follow Bryan Alexander on Twitter: @BryAlexand