Healthcare investment giant OrbiMed Advisors has been described as a workplace enveloped in a toxic culture of sexual harassment, according to an investigation by Stat released late Tuesday.
OrbiMed managing partner and co-founder Samuel Isaly is the main perpetrator of frequent and targeted harassment, according to allegations leveled in Stat’s interviews with five former employees, including one assistant who spoke on the record. The former assistant told Stat that Isaly included a reference to masturbation in work documents, sent e-mails with pornographic images attached, and exposed her to a sex toy, among other abusive behavior.
Despite repeated complaints to senior executives, little changed, Stat reports, and a “toxic” and “boorish” culture reportedly spread to the rest of the office. The former assistant told the news organization that hardcore pornography was once played on the large screens of the trading floor of the firm’s Manhattan office, in place of the usual financial news. The other former employees, who spoke anonymously because of nondisclosure agreements they had signed with the firm, told Stat similar stories.
On a phone call with its New York office, OrbiMed referred Xconomy to FTI Consulting for comment. The consulting firm has not responded to an e-mail request, nor has OrbiMed partner Carter Neild.
Isaly denied any wrongdoing in an interview with Stat. The Stat article made clear that there were not allegations of any touching in a sexual way. OrbiMed has retained an independent law firm to investigate, according to Stat.
OrbiMed had no human resources department, no employee handbook, and no sexual harassment policy until five years ago, Stat reports. Isaly, OrbiMed’s current head of HR, and two of the firm’s other executives denied some of the allegations, said they were unaware or didn’t recall other instances, and dismissed some behavior as having potentially been misconstrued, according to the report. Some of the partners also distanced themselves from Isaly.
“If this article proceeds I hope that you will be fair and focus on the person responsible, not the entire firm,” Stat reports Neild wrote in an e-mail prior to the article’s publication.
The former assistants say they have been scarred by the sexual harassment, the report says.