The fashion industry often aims to be provocative. That is, after all, one way to stand out in a competitive market. However, because of this, innapproriate behavior can sometimes get swept under the rug. If someone in fashion behaves badly, it is sometimes dismissed simply as a part of that world. But, with the ever-changing way we deal with harassment and the presence of the #MeToo movement, that might be changing. Complaints against a fashion CEO’s creepy behavior are making waves via an online petition.
The employees of Ted Baker, a luxury clothing company, are taking matters into their own hands after their claim that complaints to the companies HR fell on deaf ears. More than 2,000 people have signed an online petition that seeks to end the alleged inappropriate actions of the CEO Ray Kelvin.
The online petition alleges that the company culture at Ted Baker is one that allows for harassment which overshadows the otherwise positive experience of working for the company. One of the biggest complaints in the petition is that Ray Kelvin hugs people he meets within the company, whether they are reciprocating the hug or not.
The petition also alleges that Kelvin regularly makes innuendos, touches people uncomfortably, and talks about his sex life. One of the signers of the petition says they saw Kelvin ask female employees to sit on his lap and cuddle with him. HR responded to the complaint with “that’s just what Ray’s like.” Responses like this are what prompted the online action from the employees.
The company responded to the petition with a press release in which they say that Kelvin “greets many people he meets with a hug” and that the hugs “are part of Ted Baker’s culture” but they are “not insisted upon.” They did, however, launch an independent investigation into the claims made by the petition. Meanwhile, consumer response to the allegations has caused shares to plummet. We’ll see what that means for the fate of Ray Kelvin within the company.
What do you think? Is a company culture defined by hugging creepy? Should Ray Kelvin have action taken against him for the alleged harassment? Or do you agree with the HR department that if that’s “just how he is” it shouldn’t create an issue? Let us know in the comments!