The founders of Vice magazine have apologised for allowing a “boys’ club” culture that allowed sexual harassment to flourish.
After it was revealed that the company had made four settlements over allegations of sexual harassment or defamation against Vice staff, its co-founders, Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi, released a statement acknowledging that the company had taken action over “multiple instances of unacceptable behaviour”.
They were responding to claims made by past employees in a New York Times investigation.
In a statement, Smith and Alvi said: “Cultural elements from our past, dysfunction and mismanagement were allowed to flourish unchecked. That includes a detrimental ‘boys’ club’ culture that fostered inappropriate behaviour that permeated throughout the company.
“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,” it went on.
One woman told the New York Times the magazine had a culture of complicity where “even the most progressive people look the other way”.
Sandra Miller, a former head of branded production at Vice, said: “There is a toxic environment where men can say the most disgusting things, joke about sex openly, and overall a toxic environment where women are treated far inferior than men.”
The investigation discovered that one of the four settlements involved an allegation against Vice’s current president.
Another settlement was reached with Joanna Fuertes-Knight, a former journalist in Vice’s London office, who said she had been the victim of sexual harassment, racial and gender discrimination and bullying, according to documents viewed by the New York Times.
Another involved Jessica Hopper, a freelance journalist, who interviewed the rapper Murs in 2003. In her article, Hopper wrote that the rapper propositioned her for sex and that she said no. Vice edited her response to “yes” and printed it under…