Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg appears to have had a change of heart since Wednesday’s Democratic debate.
When grilled Wednesday night on media giant Bloomberg’s use of nondisclosure agreements by other candidates, especially Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the billionaire was defensive and vague about numbers.
But that changed Friday afternoon, with him revealing that he asked company executives to go back over the firm’s record. In a statement, the presidential candidate said they identified three NDAs that it signed over the past 30-plus years with women to address complaints about comments they said he had made.
He added that if any of them want to be released from their NDA so that they can talk about those allegations, “they should contact the company and they’ll be given a release.”
“I’ve done a lot of reflecting on this issue over the past few days and I’ve decided that for as long as I’m running the company, we won’t offer confidentiality agreements to resolve claims of sexual harassment or misconduct going forward,” he said.
“I recognize that NDAs, particularly when they are used in the context of sexual harassment and sexual assault, promote a culture of silence in the workplace and contribute to a culture of women not feeling safe or supported. It is imperative that when problems occur, workplaces not only address the specific incidents, but the culture and practices that led to those incidents,” he added.
During Wednesday’s debate, Warren called out Bloomberg for getting “some number of women, dozens, who knows, to sign nondisclosure agreements both for sexual harassment and for gender discrimination in the workplace” and asked him if he would release all of those women.
The former mayor of New York responded that Bloomberg has “very few” NDAs and that “none of them accuse me of doing anything, other than maybe they didn’t like a joke I told.”
“And let me just — and let me — there’s agreements between two parties that wanted to keep it quiet and that’s up to them. They signed those agreements, and we’ll live with it,” he added.
On Friday, Bloomberg also said that he has asked his company’s human resources team to consult with experts and review and reform its policies where necessary with regard to equal pay and promotion, sexual harassment and discrimination, and other legal tools that prevent culture change.
“I want my company to be a model for women seeking opportunity and support in their careers,” he said.
Earlier in the day, publisher Condé Nast said it would end NDAs for harassment and discrimination. In a company-wide note, new chief people officer Stan Duncan said the media company, which owns The New Yorker, Vogue and GQ, will no longer enter into NDAs “that prevent an employee from making a disclosure of conduct they were subjected to that they believe, in good faith, constitutes harassment, discrimination or retaliation.”
It also plans to release existing NDAs in these matters and advised anyone who is currently in an NDA who wishes to be released to come speak with its legal team, “who will handle these requests on a case-by-case basis.”
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