Below is a statement that Vice Media provided to The New York Times on Friday in response to questions about its workplace culture and settlements it reached with employees on harassment claims.
“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.
We understand that this had an impact on current and former employees at VICE, and we want to express our deepest apologies to them, as well as our extreme regret for our role in perpetuating sexism in the media industry and society in general.
Our failures stem from a) our ignorance, b) the inability to see the impact of our rapid growth, and c) the internal dysfunction that ensued. To be clear it was not any kind of intentional, company-level systemic bias. This doesn’t excuse our mistakes, but we hope it gives you confidence in our desire and ability to get it right.
VICE began 23 years ago as a punk magazine exploring the subversive counterculture that our writers, our readers and we were a part of. We were vehemently anti-censorship, anti-establishment and apolitical, and we wanted to build a company based on egalitarian principles.
Ten years ago, we set out on a new journey, moving beyond covering just streetwear, drugs and sex, to news and social justice issues. Over the last decade, we have severed ties with colleagues who espoused misogynistic and extremist ideologies, and evolved VICE from a publication with a tiny staff to a media company employing thousands of the most talented creative minds all over the world.
Throughout our history, we’ve undergone seismic change and reinvention, but we did not keep pace with that growth by putting into place the internal policies and structures that would prevent disparate treatment toward some of our employees.”