The CEO of Vox Media Jim Bankoff notified his staff that the company completed its investigations onto allegations made by an ex-employee that led to Steele’s termination. This is the most recent development in the Lockhard Steele sexual harassment case, which occurred when Steele was working as the Editorial Director for Vox Media. The investigation was announced on October 20, 2017.
This investigation was conducted by an external law firm. Summarizing the findings, Bankoff said: “The investigation found that 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.”
He added that there was another person involved, whose name was mentioned in the original allegations. However, even before the investigators were able to confirm their claims, the person of interest resigned from the organization.
Bankoff explained in a memo why immediate action was not taken after he received complaints from the former employee Eden Rohatensky.
Bankoff mentioned that in Spring 2016, Lauren Fisher conducted an informal inquiry into the matter. Lauren had taken corrective measures with Steele, doing what she felt was best to protect the broader community and maintain anonymity. However, Lauren wished she could have investigated the issue more vigorously, said Bankoff.
Further, Bankoff mentioned initiatives taken by the organization to include anti-harassment training and a clearly defined set of procedures to deal with complaints by employees. These initiatives are an outcome of this investigation.
“While these steps are critical to scale our culture and performance in the right ways,” said Bankoff. “I want to be clear that first and foremost, our obligation as employees of this company is to treat our colleagues with respect in all situations, or face consequences.”