BuzzFeed Memo Addresses Sexual Harassment After ‘Sh–ty Media Men’ Report

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Two weeks after BuzzFeed reported on anonymous accusations of sexual misconduct within the news media and within the company, a BuzzFeed internal memo Tuesday urged employees to speak out about sexual harassment.

On. Oct. 11, BuzzFeed wrote about “Sh–ty Media Men,” an anonymous, crowdsourced spreadsheet that lists accusations of “misconduct allegations and rumors” against dozens of men, including several who work at BuzzFeed. The memo says it is intended to address “sexual harassment in the workplace, particularly in media.”

But a person familiar with the matter told TheWrap that Tuesday’s memo was not a response to the spreadsheet, but was rather “connected to conversations happening in the country with Harvey Weinstein.” 

Most media organizations have not named the men in the “Sh–ty Media Men” document, which has been widely circulated among reporters, in part because it does not provide the names of accusers or other details that would help reporters vet or confirm the accusations.

“DISCLAIMER: This document is only a collection of misconduct allegations and rumors,” the spreadsheet states. “Take everything with a grain of salt. If you see a man you’re friends with, don’t freak out.”

As BuzzFeed’s Doree Shafrir wrote in her Oct. 11 story:

The allegations on the spreadsheet range from “flirting” and “weird lunch dates” to accusations of rape, assault, stalking, harassment, and physical violence. What these things have in common is that they remind women, particularly vulnerable women, that they are not in power.

But things do get complicated when you start lumping all of this behavior together in a big anonymous spreadsheet of unsubstantiated allegations against dozens of named men — who were not given the chance to respond…

A representative for BuzzFeed declined to say whether any individuals in the spreadsheet were currently under investigation. But Business Insider reported over the weekend that the company was investigating allegations.

BuzzFeed’s internal memo, written by BuzzFeed Chief People Officer Lenke Taylor, focuses largely on how employees can report harassment. Here it is:

Dear BuzzFeeders,

I’m reaching out to address the many conversations that are happening in and outside of BuzzFeed about sexual harassment in the workplace, particularly in media.

We are a company that deeply values equality, diversity, and individuality. We know that we thrive individually and collectively when everyone at BuzzFeed feels safe and respected. We do not tolerate harassment of any kind, and we have a set of policies and processes for reporting and responding to misconduct, which I’d like to lay out here.

We look into all allegations of harassment and related conduct, and act on them accordingly. Although the process may vary slightly to comply with local requirements, our US handbook outlines our policy and process starting on page 13. Employees globally can report misconduct to their managers or to HR. If you prefer to stay anonymous, we launched a tip line last year to provide that option. We have confidentially investigated and acted on incidents raised in the past, both via the tip line or to us directly or indirectly.

We also hope you’ll take seriously the workplace conduct trainings we provide online and in-person, which took place over the summer for managers in California and are coming up soon for other US managers. Non-managers in the US will receive an invitation from Allison Lucas within the next month to a mandatory online training, and global trainings are coming soon.

We are a stronger and more inclusive company when these issues are raised and acted on. And we want to remind you that you should not hesitate to speak confidentially and without fear of retaliation with your manager, your HRBP, or any team leader you feel comfortable with if you experience employee misconduct of any kind.

Thank you as always for your hard work and your commitment to BuzzFeed.

Best,
Lenke

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