IPG boss Michael Roth sends out global memo to fight workplace harassment

IPG chairman and CEO Michael Roth (pictured) has come out against workplace harassment by issuing an internal memo titled "A Workplace Free from Harassment", according to Adweek. This comes in the wake of reports of sexual allegations against Harvey Weinstein and most recently, Kevin Spacey.

Roth, in the memo, said:

We have all been reading about the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace, including in the ad industry.

He added it is an important time to re-emphasise that one of IPG's core values is to ensure that all employees can enjoy workplaces that are respectful and supportive. The memo stated that IPG has a "zero-tolerance policy for all types of harassment". Roth encouraged employees who have been victims of sexual harassment to make a report "without fear of reprisal". The note said:

We also have a zero-tolerance policy against retaliation, and will take steps to protect you.

It also included a link to the portal which allows employees to contact the IPG AlertLine, as well as the number to call for US employees. Roth's memo added that sexual harassment is not only limited to obvious forms such as making inappropriate advances, but also includes "any unwelcome verbal or physical behavior that creates a hostile work environment". This is not just limited to the office - they apply to off-site events and social gatherings - anywhere that with colleagues or business partners.

The note added, “Ultimately, we all perform best and serve our clients most effectively when we operate in an environment free from harassment and where behavior to the contrary will not be tolerated. We appreciate your cooperation in helping to ensure that IPG is always such a place.”

Meanwhile, all US employees are required to participate in a mandatory online anti-harassment course.

The issue of sexual harassment is not new to the ad world.

A study done in the USA last year, 4A’s found that majority of women who participated in the study had experienced sexual harassment at some point during their careers. From overly sexualized depiction of women in ads to sexual harassment in the workplace, women have been voicing out their experiences from across the ad industry globally.

Just last week, ad industry veteran Cindy Gallop called for an “end the Harvey Weinsteins of our industry once and for all" in a Facebook post. According to an article on CNBC, she says she has received emails from all over the world regarding the matter.

Last year, the ad world was taken by storm when JWT chairman and CEO Gustavo Martinez has asked to resign from his post a week after being sued by the firm’s global communications chief Erin Johnson over alleged discrimination and sexual assault. Martinez was accused of making a series of jokes about “raping female colleagues and mocking minorities.”

He was then replaced by Tamara Ingram, currently chief client team officer at WPP.