Vice Media has suspended two executives while it conducts an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against the men, the details of which were published on Dec. 23 in an in-depth report by the New York Times.
The millennial-focused media company, which is based in New York but is part-owned by Walt Disney Co. in Burbank, announced on Tuesday that it had suspended President Andrew Creighton and Chief Digital Officer Mike Germano. Germano, who joined Vice when it acquired his digital advertising agency Carrot in 2013, reportedly touched and made inappropriate comments toward two female subordinates. Creighton reached a $135,000 settlement in 2016 with a female Vice employee who alleged that she was “pressured to submit to a series of advances” by him between 2013 and 2015.
Vice has long had a reputation for producing provocative content. According to the Times, interviews with more than 100 current and former staff members revealed that the so-called “boys’ club culture” harkening back to company’s early days as a magazine covering drugs, music and underground trends had carried over into the present workplace.
In a memo circulated to staff Tuesday morning, a copy of which a source sent to the Business Journal, Vice Chief Operations Officer Sarah Broderick said Germano and Creighton were the only remaining employees who had been accused of sexual misconduct; the memo did not elaborate on whether the employees had been fired or had left of their own accord.
The allegations against Germano are being investigated by human resources in conjunction with a third-party auditor, Broderick said in the memo, and Germano will remain suspended until the inquiry was concluded. She noted that the claim against Creighton was originally “found to lack merit” by an outside law firm, but said that an internal examination of the matter by a committee of Vice members was underway. The board is expected to deliver a recommendation prior to its meeting on Jan. 11.
In the staff memo, Broderick also outlined the firm’s plan for changing the office dynamic. In addition to requiring both employees and freelancers to take sexual harassment training, the company is instituting a number of committees for diversity and inclusion across its international offices. It also has set a goal of achieving gender pay parity by the end of the year and to have a 50-50 split between male and female employees across all divisions by 2020.
Vice declined to comment further on the suspensions. Disney did not return a request for comment by press time.
Disney stock (DIS) rose 48 cents, or less than 1 percent, on Wednesday to close at $112.28 on the New York Stock Exchange.