NEW YORK: Amid daily revelations of instances of sexual harassment in the worlds of advertising, politics and entertainment, IPG boss Michael Roth has restated the agency holding company’s policy on this issue.
“Know that IPG has a zero-tolerance policy for all types of harassment and in fact, it’s part of our Code of Conduct and our standard policies and procedures,” he wrote in a memo to all staff, reproduced by The Drum.
“Sexual harassment isn't limited to its most obvious forms – such as making inappropriate advances. It also includes any unwelcome verbal or physical behavior that creates a hostile work environment.”
This applies not only to anyone people come in contact with during the course of work but also to off-site events and social gatherings.
And to ensure everyone is familiar with the policies, IPG will soon be launching a mandatory online anti-harassment course in the US.
Welcome as this surely is, others, including those on the receiving end of such behaviour, would prefer a more activist approach.
Advertising consultant Cindy Gallop, for example, has argued that sensitivity training and new guidelines are not the answer.
“Sexual harassment and bias and sexism is a systemic cultural problem in my industry,” she told CNBC last week, with women reluctant to speak out for fear of losing their job or being seen as a whistle blower.
The solution, she said, involves not just women calling out the offenders – and she has accumulated plenty of anecdotal evidence as to who they are – but agencies then treating them as heroes and hiring them.
“It [harassment] magically disappears when it [the gender balance] is equal or more female than male,” Gallop said. “When men are engaging professionally with women as equals, only then do they see women as more than girlfriends or secretaries.”
And, Roth suggested, businesses accomplish more. “We all perform best and serve our clients most effectively when we operate in an environment free from harassment and where behavior to the contrary will not be tolerated,” he said in his memo.
Sourced from The Drum, CNBC; additional content by WARC staff