It took a year for the #MeToo movement, which first started in Hollywood with the Harvey Weinstein case, to gain momentum in India and the list of names consists of high profile celebrities, journalists and agency leaders.
It was Bollywood actor Tanushree Dutta who first instigated the topic when she accused another actor, Nana Patekar, of sexual harassment. Thereafter, several women took to social media to accuse their harassers.
The advertising industry has also now been implicated, mostly via accusations on social media, and the businesses have gone public with comments around the claims.
The Drum reached out to several advertising agencies whose employees were accused of sexual harassment and here are their statements:
“We have taken note of the incidences reported in the tweets. We are deeply concerned by the seriousness of these allegations and are investigating them on priority. We will ascertain facts of the matter and see that the outcome is fair and just; and appropriate actions are taken as per the Company’s policy. We re-iterate that Publicis India has a zero-tolerance policy towards any type of workplace misconduct or abuse of power or harassment.”
Dentsu Aegis Network for Happy McGarryBowen
"Dentsu Aegis Network has always believed in providing a safe environment at our workplaces which is free from any kind of harassments. We have an internal committee constituted as per the rules prescribed under Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 to look into any complaints in this regard. Certain incidents have just come to our notice involving senior members of Happy that allegedly took place few years ago, when Happy was not a part of DAN.
"An enquiry into these alleged incidents has already been initiated. Dentsu Aegis Network does not and will not accept anything but professional behaviour at our workplaces. We have a zero tolerance policy towards any kind of harassment at our workplaces and we are committed to speedy redressal of any complaints raised in this context after following due process, as advised by the internal committee."
iProspect India’s statement on Dinesh Swamy
"With more than 50% of our staff being female employees including the agency CEO, iProspect has always believed in providing a safe working environment for all. We have an internal committee adhering to Vishakha Guidelines.
"It is unfortunate that one of our recently recruited employees has been named in the #MeToo movement for an incident which is alleged to have happened a few years ago during his tenure with his previous employer. We have a zero tolerance policy towards sexual harassment at workplace and we will immediately be conducting an enquiry regarding this."
Dentsu Webchutney’s statement on Omkar Sane
"Omkar Sane worked with us at Dentsu Webchutney between 2014-2015. During his time here, we received official complaints about his behaviour from two employees. Post the investigation which started the next day, he was let go from his position and the office immediately. And the company hasn’t worked with him in any capacity since then."
"On Sunday, an accusation of behaviors and actions that violate our code of conduct was levied against an individual at our agency, anonymously via a public post on a social media site. The accusation stands in stark contrast to our values and standards at 22feet Tribal Worldwide and at the DDB Mudra Group more broadly, where it is our primary responsibility and commitment to provide our associates with a safe, fair and dignified workplace.
"Within hours of being notified yesterday, we initiated the process of verifying the allegations and getting them investigated. "
Meanwhile, for the journalists accused, the Editors Guild of India also issued a statement:
The #MeToo social media movement began last year on 16th October with over 505,000 mentions over a 24-hour period via social media platforms alone as people highlighted themselves as having experienced some form of sexual harassment by using the phrase.