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Estée Lauder suspends executive after racial slur on Instagram

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

27 Feb 2022

Beauty conglomerate Estée Lauder has suspended one its longstanding executives after a controversial Instagram post contained a racial slur.

John Demsey, an executive group president, was suspended for an undisclosed duration for a sharing a meme mocking Sesame Street characters and a joke about Covid-19. Estée Lauder said in an internal memo his social media post “does not represent the values of the Estee Lauder Companies. Our employees and our leadership are accountable for upholding these values.”

Demsey later apologised on Instagram, stating: “I am terribly sorry and deeply ashamed that I hurt so many people when I made the horrible mistake of reposting a racist meme without reading it.”

The memo, signed by Estée Lauder Chief Executive Fabrizio Freda and Chairman William, said: “Effective immediately, John Demsey is being placed on unpaid leave due to content posted on his Instagram handle."

Demsey has had a celebrated career with Estée Lauder for 30 years, pioneering brands like MAC Cosmetics, Tom Ford Beauty and Two Faced in their infancies. In his apology Demsey iterated: I hope in time people will judge, not for this awful mistake, but for my lifetime of words and actions, which demonstrate my respect for all people.”

John Demsey