During an all-hands meeting at Vice Media this morning—the first since The Daily Beast published a report about allegations of widespread sexual harassment within the company—hundreds of employees gathered to watch pre-recorded videos meant to address their concerns about pressing internal issues.
To the dismay of many employees, there was no mention of sexual harassment.
“When the fuck are they going to address sexual harassment? We are all waiting for it, are we not?” one senior-level employee stood and said during the all-hands, according to two sources in the room. The audience erupted in applause.
In an audio recording of the meeting reviewed by The Daily Beast, Vice founders Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi addressed subjects like employees leaving the company and pay disparity in two different videotaped segments.
“They brought up lightweight concerns and then shut them down immediately,” one employee said, describing the segments. “It was extremely tone deaf.”
In both, Smith and Alvi also asked employees to describe what they “loved about Vice.” The question drew audible sighs from assembled employees.
“It’s propaganda!” one employee at the meeting later told The Daily Beast.
Another employee described the silence on sexual harassment as “a watershed moment.”
“We had this huge company-wide meeting and not a single thing was addressed about harassment? Everyone is furious,” the employee said.
“People have walked out and left for the day. And a lot of employees are writing the heads of the company and being encouraged to by their managers.”
More than a dozen women spoke to The Daily Beast for our initial report, in which they alleged sexual harassment—from unwanted touching to preferential treatment given to women who dated superiors—and an overbroad “non-traditional workplace agreement” that allowed the misconduct to thrive. One former employee, Phoebe Barghouty, described her concerns being repeatedly dismissed by Vice’s human resources department.
In response, Vice sent an email to employees announcing the launch of an internal investigation into the claims. Jason Mojica, the former editor in chief, now head of Vice’s documentary film unit was suspended, “for the duration of the investigation,” according to a Vice spokesperson. Barghouty had named Mojica, saying he made inappropriate comments and dismissed her complaints about another manager. The company also announced the creation of an all-women advisory committee to “improve company policies.” Gloria Steinem, the journalist and women’s advocate who hosted her own Viceland show in 2016, will sit on the committee.
Meanwhile, Abdullah Saeed, the host of Vice’s popular program Bong Appétit, announced on Wednesday that he would stop producing content for the company, citing the sexual harassment claims and the statement that Vice released responding to the allegations, which named his show as the kind of edgy content that justified the “Non-traditional Workplace Agreement.”