The co-founders of Vice Media have apologized for allowing a "boys' club" culture of sexual harassment to flourish at the company. Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi spoke out after a New York Times report found that the company had reached settlements including at least four harassment or defamation cases, including one involving Vice's current president. More than two dozen women contacted the Times to describe sexual misconduct amid a culture of "male entitlement" at the company, which grew from a small magazine in Montreal into a global media empire. The Times noted that despite the young age of the company and many of its managers, old-school sexual harassment and misogyny was allowed to take root.
"Cultural elements from our past, dysfunction and mismanagement were allowed to flourish unchecked," Smith and Alvi said, per the BBC. "That includes a detrimental 'boy's club' culture that fostered inappropriate behavior" throughout the firm. The company, which had required employees to sign an agreement saying they wouldn't be offended by the "workplace environment," says it has taken steps including hiring a new HR director and creating an advisory board that includes feminist Gloria Steinem. The Guardian reports that after the Times story, more former Vice employees shared stories, including Billie JD Porter, who tweeted that after Vice hired her as an "incredibly vulnerable" 16-year-old, they gave her business cards with the title "Lolita Life Ruiner."