Company behind TED Talks grapples with multiple sexual harassment charges at conferences: Report

The company that produces 'Ted Talks' is grappling with accusations of sexual harassment at its conferences. This comes shortly after reports of sexual misconduct by celebrities.

FP Staff November 19, 2017 15:25:17 IST
Company behind TED Talks grapples with multiple sexual harassment charges at conferences: Report

The company that produces 'Ted Talks' is grappling with accusations of sexual harassment at its conferences, according to reports. The allegations come after reports of sexual misconduct by celebrities like Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein,

The interviews and e-mail correspondence seen by The Washington Post reveal that TED owner Chris Anderson and other senior officials are grappling with accusations that their own conferences had not been safe for women and the atmosphere of predatory male behaviour was getting worse.

Company behind TED Talks grapples with multiple sexual harassment charges at conferences Report

Representational image. Getty images

At least five people told TED officials that they were harassed or groped during the organisation's flagship conference in Vancouver in April this year, the newspaper reported.

TED is also facing the problem internally. Jordan Reeves, a former junior staffer, said in an interview to the newspaper that while he was working at the organisation, he was harassed by Tom Rielly, the organisation's director of partnerships, in 2014. Rielly told him "incredibly" explicit jokes at work and told him that his "ass looked nice" in jeans.

Later, while talking to Huffington Post, Reeves said that the stories of Weinstein and Spacey have triggered a solidarity, a hope for change and a collective catharsis. He told Huffington Post that he decided to speak to The Post about sexual harassment at TED because when one person is brave enough to share, it inspires all.

The report further quoted Reeves as saying, "I first experienced sexual harassment early in my employment at TED. In a way, it was a part of the culture." According to him, the lines of inappropriate behaviour were blurry and resulted in uncomfortable situations for some of them.

TED acknowledged in a statement to The Post that several incidents had occurred at the Vancouver conference and it had taken action.

"We did hear from a small number of women attendees at TED 2017 about harassment. As a result, two men were immediately disinvited and won't be returning," TED said in the statement. The organisation further said that it has no tolerance for harassment of any kind and creating a safe environment is critical to the success of its conferences.

These allegations join a series of such accusations against celebrities. Dozens of women this year accused Weinstein of offences ranging from sexual harassment to rape dating back to the 1980s and actor Anthony Rapp revealed that Spacey made unwanted sexual advances towards him when he was 14 years old.

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