In a memo to staff written by COO/CFO Sarah Broderick and provided to Deadline, the company also announced an array of initiatives addressing the multitude of claims in recent articles by the Times and others about Vice’s workplace issues.
“It is a new year,” Broderick wrote. “And a new year is a time for change — no more so than here at Vice. I wanted to reach out on the first day back from the holidays to make sure there are no misunderstandings about the way in which we are moving forward to change our workplace culture and ensure all our employees feel respected and supported.”
She noted the arrival last November of new global HR chief Susan Tohyama and later this month SVP Content Strategy Marsha Cooke, who will work from the company’s U.S. base in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “In addition to Marsha’s primary role to oversee the build out of VICE’s content & talent development strategy,” Broderick wrote, “she will be leading the effort to drive social consciousness and diversity across our content.”
Broderick also name-checked some two dozen employees across the U.S., UK and Canada, many of them female, who will be leading employee councils on diversity and inclusion and co-ordinating “meet-ups around the areas of mentoring, gender, affinity groups and community partnerships.”
There has been increasing agitation at the company in recent weeks, especially since a major Times piece last month exposed the culture of the company, which many have described as a “boys club.”
Creighton was allegedly involved in a $135,000 settlement with a woman who claimed that she was fired after she rejected an intimate relationship with him.
Germano, who founded Carrot Creative, a digital ad agency acquired by Vice in 2013, also factored into the Times story. The paper recounted inappropriate comments he made to former employee Amanda Rue during a 2012 holiday party. Gabrielle Schaefer, another former Carrot employee, told the Times that Germano had “pulled her onto his lap” at a company event in 2014.
Founded as an underground, punk-inspired magazine in Montreal more than two decades ago, Vice has exploded into a multibillion-dollar media company thanks to an aggressive, take-no-prisoners ethos. Its self-styled outlaw image, a big draw for millennials online, has stood in sharp contrast with that of more established media entities like Disney, 21st Century Fox and A+E Networks have invested in the company.
The first word on the executive leaves came via a tweet this morning by Times reporter Emily Steel.