The story spoke to 30 former and current employees at the Hollywood agency.
A rep from ICM told the Los Angeles Times, “HR does not have any records of such allegations.”
ICM Partners CEO Chris Silbermann had been a proponent of “50/50 by 2020,” a promise — which the agency says that it met — to achieve gender parity in leadership positions.
But according to the LA Times story, almost a dozen women have submitted allegations of mistreatment to human resources department by their male bosses since 2017.
Three of ICM’s board members — Lorrie Bartlett, Jennifer Joel and Janet Carol Norton — defended the agency, saying in a statement that to the LA Times that claims that the company’s promise for 50/50 parity “was an insincere marketing ploy is utterly irreconcilable with both the facts and our personal experience.”
But others disputed their accounts.
“We were molded into thinking that being put down and yelled at was the way to become better, which is completely wrong,” Jennifer Jendrzejczyk, a former assistant at ICM who left the company last year, told the LA Times.
In addition, the report alleges that partner Steve Alexander exposed himself to a female film executive in a car, and claims that corporate communications chief Brad Turrell was verbally abusive to an assistant.
ICM said in a statement to the paper that “it does not tolerate harassment, bullying or other inappropriate conduct. HR investigates all reports received and addresses each with appropriate disciplinary measures up to and including dismissal.”
The roster of A-list clients at ICM Partners includes Shonda Rhimes, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Spike Lee and Regina King, among others. It’s unclear what the fallout will be for the agency, and if some of its superstar clients will leave for rival agencies.
On the question of ICM’s commitment to diversifying its senior management ranks, here is the full statement from Lorrie Bartlett, Jennifer Joel and Janet Carol Norton in response to the Times’ story:
We’ve all chosen to build our careers at ICM specifically for the chance to work with some of the preeminent and most accomplished women in our field – women including Toni Howard, Binky Urban and Esther Newberg – who have over 100 years of combined tenure here, and all of whom continue to thrive in our agency: they are the gold standards the rest of us emulate. Any insinuation that our 50/50 by 2020 pledge was an insincere marketing ploy is utterly irreconcilable with the both the facts and our personal experience.
We were all part of the board – along with Chris Silbermann, Ted Chervin, Kevin Crotty, Sloan Harris, Eddy Yablans, Adam Schweitzer, Steve Levine and Esther Newberg – that made that commitment in earnest; we have worked together and with our partners across the agency to ensure that we not only fulfilled but exceeded it; and doing so inspired us to further embrace the broad spirit and practice of inclusiveness it stood for. Neither we nor our company are perfect; no one is. But in a challenging, competitive, and labor-intensive industry that demands much of its participants, we feel privileged to enjoy a safe and encouraging environment, fair and abundant opportunities, and the respect and support of all colleagues of all genders. With them, we continue to be engaged in a concerted effort towards a better and more equitable culture that will have broad, deep and longstanding effects on our peers and, most importantly, our clients.
On Wednesday afternoon, Tina Tchen, the president and CEO of the Time’s Up Foundation, issued a statement about ICM, calling for an investigation.
“It takes courage to come forward, as the ICM employees, both former and current, have done to call attention to harassment, bullying, and misconduct at the company.
“Allegations of inappropriate behavior in any workplace are deeply troubling and should be addressed immediately.
“It is our hope that ICM takes every step to fully investigate these allegations in a fair, safe, and productive manner.”