Overnight, the New York Times published an explosive investigative piece into Vice Media, finding at least four settlements for sexual harassment or defamation over the last decade, and uncovering a culture in which female employees were silenced when attempting to come forward.

The Times piece describes an “ethos of male entitlement” at the millennial-focused media company, describing it as a place where women “said they felt like just another party favor at an organization where partying often was an extension of the job.”

Dozens of women came forward, many speaking anonymously for fear of reprisals, to say that they had “experienced or witnessed” sexual misconduct at the company, with incidents ranging from groping and unwanted kisses to lewd remarks and propositions for sex.

One striking detail in the article concerns Nancy Ashbrooke, the former human resources director at Vice Media, who had previously been employed as vice president of HR at Harvey Weinstein‘s Miramax between 1991 and 2000.

In an interview with the Colombia Journalism Review, Ashbrooke said that sexual harassment had “not been an issue” since she joined Vice in 2014, but in the New York Times piece, a number of current and former employees called bullshit on this statement.

Former project manager Kate Goss said that a Vice Media creative director put his hand in her crotch without her consent during a 2015 event at Coney Island, and that Ashbrooke brushed it off, saying “there needed to be multiple incidents in order for her to take action against the other employee.”

Abby Ellis, a former Vice Media journalist, said that she was denied newsroom opportunities after rejecting the sexual advances of a senior male colleague, and that she was also rebuffed by Ashbrooke, who said “because she was an attractive woman she would face similar behavior throughout her career.”

Another former employee, Helen Donahue, reported an incident in which Jason Mojica, of the company’s documentary unit, had grabbed her breasts and buttocks. Allegedly, Ashbrooke told her that she should “just forget about it and laugh it off.”

In a pre-emptive response to the New York Times Article, Vice Media co-founders Shane Smith [pictured above] and Suroosh Alvi issued a lengthy statement to staff at the company, apologising for the “unacceptable behaviour” that was fostered at the company.

They said:

“Listening to our employees over the past year, the truth is inescapable: 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. Cultural elements from our past, dysfunction and mismanagement were allowed to flourish unchecked. That includes a detrimental “boy’s club” culture that fostered inappropriate behavior that permeated throughout the company. It happened on our watch, and ultimately we let far too many people down. We are truly sorry for this.”

Smith and Alvi ave promised to make changes at Vice that will turn it into a “truly modern work culture.”

Source: New York Times
Image: Getty Images / Bobby Bank