Vice Is Under Fire for Its Branded Women's March Gear
Vice News is facing backlash for handing out branded products, including buttons and bandanas, at Women’s March events in New York and Los Angeles on Saturday. Critics are calling out the media group for putting its name on the items, which carry slogans like “WOMEN DON’T FORGET,” for the hypocrisy made implicit by allegations of a rampant culture of sexual harassment at the company.
Following the release of a New York Times investigation in December, two top executives were placed on leave by Vice. Andrew Creighton, president of Vice Media, and Mike Germano, chief digital officer, were accused of harassment and predatory behavior by women who worked at Vice. In the case of Creighton, the allegations led to a 2016 settlement in which the president paid a former employee $135,000 after she claimed that she was fired after rejecting his advances.
These allegations and investigations point to a problematic culture at Vice, in which female employees feel silenced and mistreated. Though the company is claiming to be taking steps toward changing its culture and image, its use of branded products at Women’s March events is being seen by many as tone-deaf and highly ironic.
— Amy Littlefield (@amylittlefield) January 20, 2018
While Vice founder Shane Smith has admitted that the media company has a history of objectifying women both in the office and in its publications, the release of an internal document known as a “Non-Traditional Workplace Agreement” more clearly shows how its problematic culture is a systemic issue. The document, which new hires are made to sign, essentially enforces silence amongst employees by requiring them to remain unoffended by anything that takes place at the workplace. Although Vice claims that the document is referring to the edgy and often disturbing content it publishes and reports on, many believe that it also enforces a silence regarding workplace harassment and sexual predation.
— Billie JD Porter (@billiejdporter) January 21, 2018
And so, with an impending reckoning hanging over their heads, the folks at Vice Media still thought it would be a good idea to put the brand’s name on promotional products featuring empowering slogans. Though this may have been an attempt to right the ship, it has become abundantly clear that women do not, in fact, forget.
In light of all of these allegations, Vice certainly has a ton of work to do in order to create a safer and more equal working environment for women. No amount of buttons or bandanas will get the company out of this obligation.