In a victory for the #MeToo movement, Happy mcgarrybowen CEO Kartik Iyer, Managing Director Praveen Das, Senior Creative Director of Happy Creative Services Bodhisatwa Dasgupta and National Creative Director of iProspect India Dinesh Swamy stepped down following allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct.
In a statement, Dentsu Aegis, the parent company, stated on Thursday that the four resigned from their respective positions. “Dentsu Aegis Network has always believed in providing a safe environment at our workplaces which is free from any kind of harassments. We have a zero tolerance policy towards any kind of harassment at our workplaces,” the statement said.
Statement. pic.twitter.com/SRi7u0KpZ0— Dentsu Aegis India (@DentsuAegisIN) October 18, 2018
In an anonymous account, a former employee of Happy mcgarrybowen said that CEO Kartik Iyer told her in the middle of a meeting that “his current biggest fantasy was to be surrounded on all side by naked women so that he could nuzzle his head into a wall of breasts.” He also harassed another woman and kept following her at a party, but then later told her that “he actually really wanted me for himself that night but decided he’d ‘let his partner have me instead’.” One woman also called him a “textbook rapist.”
In a lengthy Twitter post on October 10, Happy founders Kartik Iyer and Praveen Das were accused of being complicit in creating a toxic work environment for women employees.
Four women at Happy (an ad firm in Bangalore) on email.— Sandhya Menon (@TheRestlessQuil) October 10, 2018
Vile vile. pic.twitter.com/gkLA1F5ZOT
“I have never met or experienced [two] needier men constantly seeking attention from their employees, male or female, begging/forcing someone to sing praise or shower love. Cheek kisses and shoulder rubs are not harmless and not appropriate boss-employee behaviour.”
Senior Creative Director Bodhisatwa Dasgupta was accused by a woman who was 20-year-old intern at the time. She stated that he created an abusive environment and “repeatedly asked me to bring my boyfriend to have sex with him and his girlfriend.” In an anonymous post published on Medium, the survivor stated that she was friends with his girlfriend at the time, and was sexually harassed by him on her birthday.
Dinesh Swamy was accused in an anonymous Twitter post of making inappropriate jokes, including asking a woman if she watched porn in his car, joking about masturbating at the workplace washroom and assuming it was acceptable to tickle women.
“We are committed to taking any complaint in this context to a speedy conclusion post thorough investigation. Any employee found guilty of inappropriate behaviour will face disciplinary action, including Immediate Termination from services,” Ashish Bhasin, Chairman and CEO (South Asia), Dentsu Aegis Network told employees in an email.