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Vox Media acknowledged that it should have more vigorously investigated internal allegations of sexual harassment against its former editorial director Lockhart Steele.
Steele was fired last month following an investigation into claims of harassment against Steele.
In a lengthy note sent to employees on Friday that was obtained by Business Insider, Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff said an investigation led by outside law firm Gibson Dunn found “more than one person experienced behavior from Lockhart Steele that was inappropriate and unacceptable.”
“The behavior clearly crossed the line of professionalism and violated company policy against sexual harassment,” Bankoff said.
The note added further that chief legal officer Lauren Fisher conducted a formal inquiry after she was alerted to “concerns regarding inappropriate behavior” in April 2016.
But while Fisher took steps to stop the situation, both she and Bankoff acknowledged “regret” that Vox didn’t do more.
“As a result of that inquiry, Lauren took corrective actions with Lock, doing what she felt she could at the time to protect the broader community while also protecting the anonymity of those who came forward,” Bankoff said.
“In hindsight, there were stronger steps the company should have taken to investigate more vigorously while also looking out for those who were brave enough to come forward to share information.”
Fisher also explained why the 2016 investigation was kept mum:
“I regret that I did not find a way to investigate more vigorously and escalate the concerns while also protecting the anonymity of those who came forward to share information. Not looking harder for a path to do so was an error in judgment on my part.
But please know this: I was definitely trying to do the right thing at the time. My motivation was not to cover things up, protect Lock, or avoid bad PR. As a member of the Vox Media community, someone who cares deeply about this company, and also as a woman, I felt I had an obligation to protect the confidentiality of those who had agreed to speak to me off the record and who did not want their bad experiences to become defining moments of their careers.”
Separately, according to the memo, a second individual who also faced allegations of harassment resigned.
The memo also laid out a series of steps the company planned on taking to prevent and combat harassment in the future, including increased training and improved harassment reporting procedures.
Steele is one of top several media figures accused of harassment who have left their posts in recent weeks following revelations of years-old harassment.
NPR senior news Vice President Michael Orezkes, veteran journalist Mark Halperin, and New Republic publisher Hamilton Fish have all faced numerous accusations of years of sexual harassment.