Monday, January 11, 2016

In need of a hot shower

Photo by DO'Neil via Wikimedia Commons.
I need a shower. Right now. Maybe I can scrub away the stench of this story.

Sexual harassment is beyond shameful. It's criminal. The women who accused entertainer Bill Cosby of sexual assault are at last being taken seriously.

But we're kidding ourselves if we think such behavior is limited to realms of entertainment or politics. It's a widespread, heinous practice. 

Even in the PR industry.

Look no further than last month's imbroglio involving D.C.-based PR executive Trevor FitzGibbon, whose agency's client list included Amnesty International, Wikileaks, and the American Civil Liberties Union. Less than a month after several women voiced claims of sexual harassment or sexual assault against Mr. FitzGibbon -- including a female job applicant from whom he solicited nude photos -- FitzGibbon Media shuttered its doors

And the agency's 29 employees were left jobless a few days before Christmas, through no malfeasance of their own. One told PR Week:

"The way it has been handled is uncool, our emails were cut off immediately and there has been no severance pay for anyone. It sucks that people are out of a job just before Christmas."

To their credit, most of FitzGibbon's ex-staff crafted and signed a statement that said, in part:

"For decades, Trevor presented himself a champion of the progressive movement, claiming to support and respect women and feminist issues, from equal pay to reproductive rights, but his actions prove a hypocrisy so great that FitzGibbon Media closed its doors today, as we could no longer continue working under his leadership” ... “We lost our jobs standing up for what’s right, to ensure a safe workplace for all – and while we may have been left without jobs, benefits and long-term healthcare, we have our integrity and each other.”

We tend to overlook the collateral damage from one person's sexual misconduct. In this case, FitzGibbon's employees are also victims of one PR pro's disregard of ethics or responsibility. Those who signed the statement demonstrate a strong grasp of the importance of integrity and ethics. 

More, apparently, than their former boss.

Now, where's the soap?