Glenn Chapman | AFP | Getty Images
US superstar tennis player Serena Williams (R) discusses her tennis career and pending motherhood with journalist Gayle King during the TED Conference on April 25, 2017 in Vancouver, Canada.
The company that produces “TED Talks” is wrestling with accusations of sexual harassment at its exclusive conferences, The Washington Post reported Friday.
The Post reported that at least five people told TED officials that they were harassed or groped at an April conference in Vancouver.
“We are clearly not doing enough,” the nonprofit’s general counsel Nishat Ruiter reportedly said in an email to TED’s leadership.
TED did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.
In a statement to the Post, TED acknowledged hearing “from a small number of women attendees” about harassment at the group’s flagship conference. As a result, they said, two men were disinvited.
They wrote: “Creating a safe and welcoming environment is critical to the success of our conferences, and we have no tolerance for harassment of any kind. As soon as we heard there were issues at our conference in 2017 we took immediate action to address the specific allegations, then worked with leading experts to upgrade our code of conduct. Today we make the code of conduct extremely clear to all TED conference attendees, and encourage our community to report violations.”
One longtime attendee who complained of sexual harassment reportedly told TED owner Chris Anderson that she would not be returning, the Post said.
Anderson reportedly forwarded the email to his team, writing that he didn’t “want to overstate what’s here (until we can find more) but I do think we’ll need to think seriously about what more we can do.”
Tom Rielly, the organization’s director of partnerships, reportedly wrote in an April email exchange seen by the Post that “experiences like this have been going on for years, to varying degrees.” He said it was “absolutely heartbreaking and stomach turning.”
He also expressed his worries that complaints could become a public relations problem.
“It seems 51% chance or more that there will be at least social media posts about the issue if not articles,” he wrote.
Most people pay $10,000 to attend TED conferences, according to the Post, and must apply for tickets.