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Source: Wikipedia / Thomas Wolf

Hollywood sign

ICM Partners has become the subject of an LA Times exposé in which more than 30 current and former agency employees said the agency tolerated a hostile workplace culture.

The report cites sexual harassment, bullying and inappropriate behaviour towards women and people of colour, and would appear to contradict the ethos underpinning the ‘50/50 By 2020’ parity pledge pertaining to leadership roles announced several years ago.

One specific allegation claimed partner Steve Alexander exposed himself in a car to a female film finance executive. The article said the executive reported the matter and Alexander was placed on temporary leave.

Alexander has denied the allegation, and neither he nor the executive commented on the matter to the Times.

The report cited other allegations against agents and senior executives including bullying (music agent Mitch Blackman declined to comment in the LA Times article), public berating of assistants (communications head Brad Turrell denied making specific comments but said he regretted his tone, apologised, and has not repeated the behaviour), and inappropriate conduct with a client (agent Kevin Hussey reported the incident and apologised to the client).

According to the article, Black support staff were asked to be in a video promoting the agency’s trainee programme, when in fact the support staff in question were below the trainee agent grade.

ICM Partners said the move was in “poor judgment”, adding it has worked on improving its diversity practices.

The article cites ICM Partners saying it was the first major agency to promote African Americans to senior roles. It launched Diversity/ICM last June to focus on recruiting, training and mentoring Black applicants and employees.

The agency claims it has met the goals of its 50/50 By 2020 initiative. In a statement to the LA Times, board members Lorrie Bartlett, Jennifer Joel, and Janet Carol Norton said any suggestion the pledge “was an insincere marketing ploy is utterly irreconcilable with both the facts and our personal experience”.

In a statement to the LA Times the agency said it regretted hearing that employees felt unsupported, adding that it investigates all reports received and takes appropriate disciplinary action.

At time of writing ICM Partners had not responded to Screen’s request for a comment.