Defy Media said it is taking several steps to change how it deals with sexual harassment claims in the wake of the firing of Andy Signore (pictured above), founder of Screen Junkies and “Honest Trailers,” over sexual harassment and assault allegations.
CEO Matt Diamond, in a blog post Thursday — nearly three weeks after Signore’s employment was terminated — wrote that “after learning the full extent of his egregious and intolerable behavior” the company’s management team has asked employees for input on how to improve its processes. The company has been criticized by Signore’s accusers for failing to take action, and at least one of them had informed Defy Media’s HR department of his behavior two months prior to his dismissal.
The new initiatives being enacted by Defy Media, according to Diamond, are:
- HR Policies Review and Reform: The company is working with external human-resources consultants to review how it handles harassment claims and related issues and to identify areas of improvement.
- Revision of Training and Development Programs: The company is reviewing and revising its existing programs, including sexual-harassment training for managers, and is making those mandatory for all employees.
- Code of Conduct for Fan Interaction: Defy will establish a code of conduct that “demands absolute professionalism from our creators” and will be “codified and enforced.”
- Creator-Driven Advocacy Initiatives: The company will encourage Screen Junkies and other brands to “use their platforms for positive advocacy and support, when appropriate and relevant.”
One woman, April Dawn, alleged that Signore tried to sexually assault her “on multiple occasions” and that he had threatened to fire her boyfriend, Screen Junkies employee Josh Tapia, if she went public. According to Dawn, she informed Defy Media’s HR department about Signore’s behavior two months prior but “all they’ve done is protect him.” Emma Bowers, who had worked as an intern for Signore, said Signore once invited her to watch him masturbate, and another woman, Devin Murphy, wrote that after she began interacting as a fan with Signore, he made sexual overtures to her and tried to arrange numerous meetings with her.
During a discussion by Screen Junkies staffers posted Thursday on its YouTube channel, Screen Junkies News editor-in-chief Roth Cornet said “there were serious questions about how Defy HR handled the women who came forward and their cases, and we took that very, very seriously.”
According to Cornet, the Screen Junkies team met with Defy Media’s management and “outlined steps forward to ensure that this would not happen again, and that is our No. 1 goal.”