Monday, December 17News For London

“Disgusting” office harassment: Ted Baker allegedly breaks the fantasy for fashion industry

Staff working for the fashion brand, Ted Baker, have called an online petition to end the alleged harassment by the chief executive, Ray Kelvin, 62. 

They argue that inappropriate behaviours such as “forced hugging” have become the workplace culture and human resources office left the harassment unchallenged. 

The petition has been signed by more than 2,500 people, and everyone can sign it freely even if they work for other companies. As a result of that, shares in Ted Baker hit three-year low, falling almost 15 per cent by noon today. 

“End the harassment at Ted Baker.” – screenshot from the petition website

“The owner regularly makes sexual innuendos at staff,” the petition claimed. 

In response to this, the company said that “Ray greets many people he meets with a hug” and the practice was “absolutely not insisted upon.” 

Ted Baker also added that it will have a “thorough and urgent independent external investigation.”

Screenshot of the formal statement from Ted Baker

People have reacted to this scandal with mixed views. Most users agreed that the allegation should be taken seriously. 

One person made fun of the brand, writing: “I was hugged once. I have yet to recover from the trauma.”

“Hugging is rape.” – screenshot of twitter @TitaniaMcgrath 

Some consumers were calling for boycotting the brand. A comment on twitter described the harassment as “older men’s power.”

 

“It’s just disgusting.” – screenshot of twitter @Juliannochie

Many tweets used “#Metoo” to get broader attention, as they believed that the behaviours are assaults if the employees are not comfortable with it, and people need to break the silence about office harassment. 

However, just like the negative comments that “#Metoo” movement has encountered, the Ted Baker issue was doubted as another way to steal the spotlight. 

#Metoo or just brand culture? – screenshot of twitter @liamhutchins0n

There were other viewpoints online to defend the CEO Mr. Kelvin. A fashion journalist Eric Musgrave commented this controversy as a result of “modern times”. 

“I enjoy being hugged by Ray Kelvin.” – screenshot of twitter @MusgravEric

One user said: “The world needs more people like this who embrace fellow humans with such love.”

“What a great way for a person to express themselves.” – screenshot of twitter @vernonkay1984

As the petition stated, the behaviours were not limited to “huggings”: “He stroke people’s necks, he took off his shirt on one occasion and talked about his sex life.”

Allegations of harassment were likely to be swept under the inefficient management of HR staffs. The lack of formal policies on this issue were concerned. 

Political commentator, Jane Merrick, expressed “sympathy and solidarity with Ted Baker staff” and this kind of office culture is “not acceptable”. 

“It’s not just about a hug as greeting.” – screenshot of twitter @janemerrick23

According to the Sunday Times Rich List, Mr. Kelvin is worth £522m. Analysts said investors would be concerned if Mr. Kelvin were forced to quit as he represented the company’s image. 

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