NDAs have entered the political lexicon in the past few years in news coverage of President Trump and more recently Democratic candidate Mike Bloomberg. Both have a history of using NDAs in legal settlements that threaten to financially destroy people who violate their terms.
However, Condé Nast's Chief People Officer Stan Duncan said in a memo to staff that "reporting on issues at other companies" was main reason to change the policy on NDAs.
The New Yorker magazine last year won a Pulitzer Prize for reporter Ronan Farrow's story about Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced movie mogul who used NDAs to silence his accusers. Weinstein this week was convicted of rape and now awaits sentencing in New York City.
In his memo, Duncan said there are legitimate arguments in favor of NDAs, but Condé Nast's commitment to transparency is contrary to using NDAs "that prevent an employee from making a disclosure of conduct they were subjected to that they believe, in good faith, constitutes harassment, discrimination or retaliation."
The policy covers all of Condé Nast's U.S. employees. CNN Business reported it may be extended to the company's operations in other countries.
The NewsGuild of New York, which represents staffers at several Condé Nast publications, is pushing for the company to include the new NDA policy in its collective-bargaining agreement with employees.
"The value of having a union contract is that it’s enforceable and its collectively bargained, and it cannot be changed unless both parties agree to it," NewsGuild president Susan DeCarava stated. "Corporate policies, on the other hand, are subject to the whim of whoever is in charge at the particular time.”