Commentary

Adland Reevaluates Sex Harassment Policies In Light Of Recent Scandals

Sadly, sexual harassment is not new. On Friday, advertising veteran Cindy Gallop called it a “national emergency.’’ The alarming details of a number of additional cases have come to light in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. At the same time, a number of people have acknowledged being aware of bad behavior and failing to call out the perpetrators.

Now Adland’s holding companies are reviewing policies and taking steps (or considering doing so) to make doubly certain that employees are aware of the anti-harassment and retaliation policies in place.

Havas is the latest to take additional measures.

Late last week company, CEO Yannick Bollore issued a memo indicating the company is imposing new requirements of all employees, including two online courses that must be taken that cover harassment and business ethics.

“Harassment can take on many forms,” wrote Bollore, “both physical and verbal. Neither is acceptable. These courses will reinforce the behaviors expected of Havas employees. More details will be shared in the coming weeks.

“Respect is at the core of our values at Havas,” added Bollore. “I am counting on each of you to behave in a manner that supports these guiding principles. It’s important to have a cohesive work environment that maintains the reputation of our business with clients, partners and vendors — and provides a supportive environment for you.”

Havas’ action followed a move by Interpublic earlier in the week to require employees (in the U.S.) to take an online course that spells out the company’s “zero tolerance” policy on sex harassment and retaliation.

Other firms are also considering new measures, albeit not necessarily mandatory training.

At Publicis Groupe, management board member Anne-Gabrielle Heilbronner, responding to a query, stated: “Mandatory training is not a panacea, according to recent studies on Diversity and Inclusion, which tend to demonstrate they are often expensive and useless. At Publicis, we combine various initiatives, based on a clear and strict policy.”

That said, Heilbronner added, “We are currently working with our Talent teams to see if our policy needs reinforcement and if other actions should be launched. We are strongly committed to offering a safe and respectful workplace for all of our employees.”

 

 

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