How surprised would you be to learn that a senior executive and board member of a popular women’s clothing brand has been accused of harassing and sexually assaulting more than a dozen fashion models? brand ? Given my personal experience as a working woman, I wouldn’t be surprised.
What is shocking about this situation, however, is that this man has remained in his leadership roles despite more than a dozen harassment charges — and six-figure settlements with victims — dating back decades. The individual in question, Paul Marciano, is one of the co-founders of Guess?, Inc., and currently holds a prominent position within the company as Chief Creative Officer. He and his brother, Maurice, also sit on the board of directors and are major shareholders.
Incredibly, the heinous charges and payments have been openly known for years. Indeed, in 2018, Kate Upton went public with her story of being harassed by Paul Marciano while modeling for Guess. There have been numerous media reports of other allegations from other women who have come forward, including several since 2021. (Many of these stories were reported by The Daily Beast’s Diana Falzone, a former Fox News colleague with whom I co-founded Lift Our Voices, fighting to end contract clauses preventing employees from discussing or disclosing toxic workplaces and sexual harassment or assault.)
I believe this is an abhorrent example of something that should be long gone in corporate America, that such men can be protected, empowered, and immune from any significant consequence. Case in point: Guess spent nearly a million dollars in settlements to get those charges out of the way, and Paul Marciano didn’t face trial, likely because of the specious arbitration clauses that shielded men like him for a while. years.
I’ve made it my life’s passion to make workplaces safer for all women – and recently focused on eliminating these arbitration clauses. Earlier this month, I successfully pushed my historic bipartisan legislation through Congress and accompanied the President and Vice President on March 3 to sign the bill.
The law ending forced arbitration of sexual assault and sexual harassment – the biggest change in employment law in the last 100 years – eliminates the possibility for companies to force employees into the secret chamber of arbitration for harassment and assault complaints. Instead, it offers an open jury process if the victim chooses. It’s a game changer for millions.
Regarding Guess, I am encouraged by a recent development. Legion Partners, an investment fund based in Los Angeles, Guess’s hometown, recently launched a campaign to shame the company for doing the right thing and kicking Paul and his brother Maurice out of business. business. It is heartening to see this movement and I believe that all women, especially those who shop for Guess clothing, should be angry at Paul Marciano’s continued leadership role in light of these numerous allegations. I also call on major institutional investors in the financial world who own Guess stock to pressure Guess to end the Marcianos’ long tenure by withholding their vote against Paul and Maurice Marciano at the company’s upcoming annual meeting.
As co-founder of Lift Our Voices, I have heard from thousands of women who have been harassed at work but have not spoken out. I have also heard from women who have come forward with their stories and lost their jobs as a result. These stories are heartbreaking, especially because these women often have no recourse.
If we don’t start tackling these issues head-on and taking action to weed out the bad apples, we’re simply continuing the vicious cycle of abuse. It is only through the bravery of others in power and by talking openly about these problems that we really begin to solve them.
The Guess example is one of many, but it is one of the most egregious. In today’s corporate America, where there is an increasing focus on environmental, social and governance issues, given the seriousness of the allegations, the Marcianos’ continued presence at Guess should not be tolerated.
Gretchen Carlson is an internationally recognized women’s rights advocate whose bold actions against Fox News President Roger Ailes helped pave the way for the global #MeToo movement. She is co-founder of Lift Our Voices.