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Mitali Srivastava Hough quits Utopeia as Sudarshan Banerjee stays after sexual harassment allegations

The current Managing Partners of Utopeia counter Mitali’s charges, bring out their side of the story

(L) Mitali Srivastava and Sudarshan Banerjee (R)

Protesting the dismissive attitude of the leadership towards multiple allegations of sexual harassments against Utopeia Communicationz Co-founder Sudarshan Banerjee, the agency’s another Co-founder and Head of Strategy Mitali Srivastava Hough has resigned from the company.

Srivastava set up Utopeia six years ago along with Banerjee, Sean Colaco and Ayan Chakraborty. Krishna Padhey and Krishnaraj Bhat later joined her as managing partners.

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In a letter sent to BestMediaInfo.com and posted on social media, Srivastava wrote, “I have resigned from Utopeia in protest the dismissive attitude of the leadership towards the alleged survivors that came forward as part of #MeToo. Utopeia is not legally bound to investigate the allegations against the co-founder in question, but I believe there was a moral obligation. As Utopeia’s co-founder, I cannot share a value system that chose not to conduct an enquiry into this matter, and neither will I endorse a culture where sexual harassment of any kind is treated lightly.”

Alleging that there was also an attempt to change the narrative in the last few weeks to hint that Srivastava has run a conspiracy against Banerjee and to blame her for the disrepute that has followed the agency and him, Srivastava wrote, “To discredit me, a malicious anonymous, unverified post was shared on the blog, which branded me as a sexual predator too. This post was later taken down by the author. When this attempt failed, an internal HR complaint was raised against me by one of his team members, which gave the management and their legal team a reason to exclude me from any discussions regarding Utopeia's approach to the incidents reported through #MeToo, due to the enforced leave that I was placed on. We were both placed on leave together, but only I was investigated. The HR enquiry against me was closed — clearing me — by an external third-party consultant. The management did not provide an internal statement to clarify the situation or offer an apology. Nor was there any attempt to identify the anonymous author despite the damage it did to my reputation and the agency. In my opinion, it was a deliberate attempt to deflect the allegations raised by four verified women through their #MeToo testimonies.”

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Srivastava also said that having the spouse of the co-founder as Head of HR would always remain a conflict of interest.

Responding to this, the current Managing Partners of Utopia decided to bring out their side of the story and issued a statement.

“In view of the allegations, the then Managing Partners of Utopeia constituted an enquiry committee comprising Sean Colaco, Krishnaraj Bhat and Krishna Padhey. Sudarshan Banerjee and Mitali Srivastava Hough proceeded on leave, as advised by the enquiry committee,” the statement said. “The enquiry committee also deemed it proper that Paramita Banerjee, Head HR and the wife of Sudarshan Banerjee, should also proceed on leave.”

On the allegations, “No complaint whatsoever was received by the enquiry committee or Utopeia nor did any person reached out to them in any manner till October 31, 2018,” the statement said. “Without a complaint and a complainant, the enquiry committee and Utopeia had no scope to continue and conduct any enquiry. Further, it was beyond the means and expertise of the enquiry committee to carry out a police investigation of sorts and trace the source of the four posts that initially appeared in social media and identify the writers of the posts.”

The statement concluded stating, “In the circumstances aforesaid, the enquiry committee closed its enquiry as regards Sudarshan Banerjee. Having closed the enquiry, the next logical step was to ask him to resume his duties. He did so with effect from November 12, 2018.”

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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