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Vice UK staff warn that sexual harassment has overshadowed journalism careers of young women at the media brand

By John Reynolds

Vice Media has beefed up its HR policies and procedures in the UK amid allegations of sexual harassment at the media company.

Bosses at Vice Media have enlisted a third party provider to run an anonymous UK staff survey, so staff can voice their opinions, concerns and thoughts on internal structures, procedures and culture.

UK Vice employs a workforce of more than 300 staff spanning production, editorial and commercial roles. The UK operation consists of a network of digital channels (including Vice News), video production teams, 24-hour hour TV channel Viceland, the free monthly magazine and a creative services agency.

Vice is introducing an anonymous round the clock hotline service for employees to confidentially talk about any issues they wish to anonymously report in the UK.

Globally, Vice Media hired its first head of HR, Susan Tohyama, in November, who is working with the UK HR team to improve HR standards.

Full-time and freelance staff in the UK and other markets are also now required to take part in sexual harassment training which is run by third-party providers.

The ramping up of its HR capabilities comes amid Vice Media launching a probe into sexual harassment and improper workplace conduct, after revelations in the US.

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It has suspended two senior executives – president Andrew Creighton and chief digital officer Mike Germano – following a New York Times report detailing sexual harassment allegations against them.

The company’s decision to put the two executives on leaves was announced in a memo to staff from Vice chief operating officer Sarah Broderick.

In addition, more than two dozen women said they had experiences or witnessed sexual misconduct at the company, including unwanted kisses, groping, lewd remarks and propositions for sex.

According to the New York Times, Creighton paid $135,000 in 2016 to a former Vice employee after she alleged she was fired after rejecting his suggestions they have a romantic relationship.

Following the article, a group of workers in the UK called for an independent investigation and moves to diversify hiring.

In an open letter, published on Medium, Vice UK workers wrote: “Many women join VICE at an early and vulnerable point in their career.

“For some, sexual harassment and conscious and unconscious prejudice have overshadowed their future in journalism and severely damaged their confidence.

“This is unforgivable and not something that we can apologise away. As current UK employees, we have come together independently
to discuss and move towards the creation of a workplace culture based on equality.

“It is not enough to have a white female figurehead such as Gloria Steinem on an executive board, one that feels far away in the US. We are the journalists, filmmakers and creators that work with people on the ground.

“We need to be able to ensure that conversations that promise change are felt in the working conditions for the ground staff here in the UK and not just to save face for our executives.”

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