Co-founder of Guess resigns amid $500,000 sexual harassment settlements
The #MeToo movement and allegations of misbehavior has cost a legendary figure in fashion retailing his job.
Paul Marciano, the co-founder and chief creative officer of Guess ? Inc. and the subject of a probe into misconduct, resigned as executive chairman following the completion of the investigation, according to the company’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Guess said his resignation was voluntary.
Marciano will transition his chief creative officer duties and other responsibilities to Guess CEO Victor Herrero by Jan. 30, when his contract expires. Guess appointed co-founder Maurice Marciano, the older brother of Paul, as chairman, effective immediately.
The filing revealed that Guess and Marciano entered into settlement agreements totaling $500,000 to resolve claims by five individuals (who were not named) arising out of allegations of inappropriate conduct. Guess said the company and Marciano agreed to the settlements, which are not confidential, “to avoid the cost of litigation and without admitting liability or fault.”
According to the filing, “allegations against Mr. Marciano included claims of inappropriate comments and texts, and unwanted advances including kissing and groping.”
“The investigation found that on certain occasions Mr. Marciano exercised poor judgment in his communications with models and photographers and in placing himself in situations in which plausible allegations of improper conduct could, and did, arise,” the filing said.
The accusations against Marciano started in late January, when supermodel Kate Upton, via social media, accused Marciano of sexually and emotionally harassing women. In February, she told Time magazine that Marciano had sexually harassed and assaulted her during her first professional modeling campaign, when she was 18. Other women consequently stepped forward with allegations of improper conduct.
Guess went on to form a special committee comprised of two independent directors to oversee an investigation into the allegations, which were denied by Marciano. Investigators hired by the board interviewed more than 40 people and reviewed approximately 1.5 million pages of documents, according to the filing.
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Jewelry giant bolsters executive team
Coinciding with the company’s transformation plans, Signet Jewelers Ltd. has named two new executives who will round out the company’s leadership team.
Signet Jewelers, parent of Zales, Kay Jewelers, Jared and other jewelry banners, has named Mary Elizabeth Finn as chief people officer, effective immediately. She will be responsible for continuing to foster diversity and inclusion, and leading training and development for all team members.
Finn was previously the chief human resources officer at Nielsen, where she oversaw 44,000 employees across 100 countries. Prior to Nielsen, she held several senior-level human resources roles with General Electric. She has significant experience empowering employees during business transformation, providing effective training and development opportunities, and building diverse and successful teams throughout her career.
Meanwhile, Stephen Lovejoy has been named chief supply chain officer, effective immediately. His responsibilities will include oversight of all distribution and logistics, indirect sourcing and procurement, supply chain management, and manufacturing and operations, including repair centers and custom capability. Lovejoy will also support Signet’s industry-leading responsible sourcing initiatives.
Lovejoy joins Signet from Glanbia PLC, a nutritional foods company where he oversaw 12 manufacturing sites and 30 distribution centers around the world. Before that, he served as senior VP of global supply chain for Starbucks, where he used his deep understanding of retail supply chains to drive both quality and efficiency.
Both executives will report directly to CEO Virginia Drosos.
“Mary Liz and Steve are joining Signet at a very exciting time as we embark on our Path to Brilliance, and each will play a critical role in building our Culture of Agility and Efficiency,” said Drosos.
“Their additions, along with our recent C-suite appointments, underscore the commitment and focus we are bringing to our transformation agenda,” she added. “I am confident that we have a lean and highly accountable team in place with the diversity of experience, knowledge, and expertise to transform Signet into a share-gaining, omnichannel category leader.”
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