Estee Lauder Suspends Top Exec for Racial Slur & Covid Jokes Posted on Instagram - The Jewish Voice
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Estee Lauder Suspends Top Exec for Racial Slur & Covid Jokes Posted on Instagram

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Posting controversial remarks on social media platforms these days can get anyone in hot water, but if you are a high-profile personality, it could spell the end of one’s career.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Estée Lauder Cos. has suspended a top executive without pay following backlash over a post on his personal Instagram account that contained a racial slur and jokes about Covid-19.

John Demsey, who serves as executive group president and oversees a portfolio of brands including MAC and Clinique, was suspended by the top brass at the New York City based cosmetics giant.

The explosive post which was discovered on Demsey’s Instagram account on Monday showed a spoof book cover of the children’s TV show “Sesame Street,” according to the WSJ. The post also contained the N-word with some letters replaced with asterisks. The report indicated that the post has been taken down from Demsey’s Instagram account.

In an internal memo to company leaders on Tuesday, Estee Lauder Chief Executive Fabrizio Freda and Chairman William Lauder said: “Effective immediately, John Demsey is being placed on unpaid leave due to content posted on his Instagram handle.” The WSJ viewed an excerpt of the memo.

“The content posted does not represent the values of The Estée Lauder Companies,” the memo said, according to the WSJ report.  “As a company deeply committed to inclusive actions and behavior, and in line with our company policies, our employees and our leadership are accountable for upholding these values.”

The New York Post reported that Demsey’s Instagram account has over 73,000 followers.

The WSJ reported that Demsey has nearly 51,000 posts that include fashion images and numerous memes poking fun at heiresses, celebrity women who date younger men and poorly applied eyeliner, to jokes about being unmotivated and depressed.

The company did not comment on the length and scope of his suspension.

The divorced father of a teenage boy has been known to frequent the New York City party circuit with high-powered celebrities, according to the Post report.

Estee Lauder shares closed Wednesday down 1.61%, at $290.93 a share, according to a CNBC report.

Demsey has been employed by Estee Lauder for 30 years and has overseen MAC for decades. The WSJ has reported that the brand grew from edgy upstart to one of the biggest names in beauty. Estee Lauder reported his total compensation as more than $9.6 million in the year ended June 30, as was reported by the WSJ.

Demsey, 65, has coordinated numerous marketing campaigns and built relationships with fashion entrepreneurs and celebrities in New York and beyond, as was reported by the WSJ.

The Post reported that Demsey graduated from both Stanford University and New York University’s Stern School of Business. He has worked in the cosmetics industry since the 1990s.

He was instrumental in tapping a diverse range of women as MAC ambassadors or collaborators, especially Black music stars, including Rihanna, Mary J. Blige and recently Saweetie, as was reported by the WSJ.

Referencing Demsey’s posts, Mark Lipton, professor emeritus of management at the New School and Parsons School of Design said, “I’m kind of flabbergasted that somebody in the personal care/beauty business would even risk, on a pretty hefty social media account, joking about some of these things.”


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