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'The Decision Was Ours,' Martin Agency Tells Staff Regarding Alexander's Exit

By Published on .

Joe Alexander had described the decision to leave The Martin Agency as his.
Joe Alexander had described the decision to leave The Martin Agency as his. Credit: Dubai Lynx via YouTube

The Martin Agency sent an email to staffers Thursday evening addressing the departure of creative veteran Joe Alexander, which followed an internal investigation into an allegation of sexual harassment, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

"The behavior that Martin's former CCO, Joe Alexander, is accused of is inexcusable. That's why the only alternative was for him to leave The Martin Agency. That decision was ours," the email, sent from CEO Matt Williams and President Beth Riley-Kelley.

The email added: "There's been some frustration about the language we used to talk about Joe's exit. We get it. Let us be clear: we chose our words to protect the anonymity of the person who came forward. She deserves that."

Alexander, who previously told Ad Age that he left to avoid "a drawn-out, hurtful investigation," responded to the memo that he stood by his earlier statement. "I resigned," he said Thursday night.

In addition to outlining what the email calls "the basics," such as unconscious bias training, to help keep employees within The Martin Agency safe, the note says the shop will put Tiny Pulse, an anonymous feedback platform, in place in January.

"The recent articles have been jarring and hurtful. We felt it too. And there may be more articles and details to come. But as disturbing as they are, the details aren't the heart of the matter here. The heart of the matter is that people in our company felt unsafe and unheard," the internal memo says.

To read the email in full, see below.

Hi, everyone.

The past year has revealed some painful but important truths about workplaces all over America. It's clear that the environment women have too often silently endured is one nobody should have to tolerate.

Now it's happened here. We're deeply sorry that any of you ever felt unsafe or unheard.

The behavior that Martin's former CCO, Joe Alexander, is accused of is inexcusable. That's why the only alternative was for him to leave The Martin Agency. That decision was ours.

There's been some frustration about the language we used to talk about Joe's exit. We get it. Let us be clear: we chose our words to protect the anonymity of the person who came forward. She deserves that.

The recent articles have been jarring and hurtful. We felt it too. And there may be more articles and details to come. But as disturbing as they are, the details aren't the heart of the matter here. The heart of the matter is that people in our company felt unsafe and unheard.

We've had a painful wake up call. And we've heard it.

Of course, we're doing the basics.

Tomorrow we begin department meetings to review the sexual harassment policy.

On December 18th, the EC and Department Heads will go through workplace conduct training.

In January, we'll be rolling out Unconscious Bias training and Workplace Conduct Training for the entire agency.

And in March we'll have our annual Code of Conduct review.

But this time calls for more than the basics. We're committed to building an accountable and transparent workplace. So we'll use Tiny Pulse, an anonymous feedback platform rolling out in January, to track our progress on categories like safe place to work, inclusive workplace, diversity and morale, in real time. And we'll share that feedback at every step, so you can hold us accountable. Where we're falling short, we'll work to get better.

We know it can be hard to come forward when you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. The IPG hotline is always available. And if you're not comfortable with the hotline, in the next month we'll be providing other ways for you to share how you're feeling.

We're also going to reach out to our peers in the industry to start a new conversation about how we can all get better. One that goes beyond talk to create tangible things we can do to make create positive change.

One or both of us will be in the gallery all day tomorrow to talk about anything that's on your mind. We want to hear from you.

This has been a sobering, sad, frustrating moment of reflection for us. It's a moment that will last far beyond the painful events of the last few days. And one we promise not to waste.

--Matt and Beth

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