Commentary

In Race To Reform, Conde Nast Introduces New Sexual Misconduct Policies

Over the past few months, allegations of sexual misconduct have come out against various individuals—Harvey Weinstein, Glenn Thrush—and the institutions surrounding them: film and publishing. Both industries have scrambled to find a solution to the endemic problem.

Last week, The New York Times, which has exposed many of the most important stories of late, published a piece in which more than two dozen male models recounted harassment and abuse experienced at the hands of veteran photographers Bruce Weber and Mario Testino.

The photographers are each enmeshed in the editorial found at Conde Nast publications, such as GQVanity Fair and Vogue, along with many of the brands that advertise in the magazines’ pages. 

In October  2017, Vogue and Conde Nast ended its longtime partnership with another alleged harasser, Terry Richardson, as did Hearst and several fashion brands. Conde Nast was reported to have begun developing policies to protect models on set.

Last week, the company halted all future work with Testino and Weber and announced the new policies, to be disclosed in full by the end of January.   

In a statement over the weekend, the company posted the set protocols to create safer work environments on its corporate site.

All models must be over the age of 18, no drugs or alcohol are allowed on set and any salacious content, whether that be nudity or semi-nudity, sexually suggestive poses or simulated alcohol or drug use, must be agreed upon in writing in advance of the shoot. 

While its helpful to see steps taken by a legacy brand like Conde Nast, particularly against those who have been at the top of the fashion industry for decades, the efforts made by the publishing industry have been slow to develop.

Vice Media, in the midst of its own investigations, following the suspension of two top executives, has been exposed—also by The New York Times—for the toxic culture infecting its work culture, a charge also leveled against NYT. Vice Media developed a committee to broach the topic and to create corporate protocols to protect its employees in future.

Following an investigation into White House reporter Glenn Thrush, The New York Times temporarily suspended him, but will reinstate him as an employee following that suspension. No such protocol by Conde Nast or Vice has yet been announced.

Conde Nast is taking a stand against the very cultures that have helped to build its legend — fashion and photography — reforming them in the process. What will signal even greater progress: When the publishing industry takes a sweeping stand against its own from the inside out.

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