Beauty market

The meme that derailed an executive’s career

In recent years, powerful white executives have lost their jobs because of racist statements they have made to employees and others. John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John’s, used a racial slur during a conference call; Greg Glassman, the founder and CEO of CrossFit, posted a tweet shedding light on the murder of George Floyd and spoke aggressively to CrossFit gym owners about the race in a video call.

But Mr. Demsey is a leader whose past three decades have been a case study in how diversity is good for business, and some of his most prominent advocates are members of the black power elite in the world. fashion.

“Racism may not be the way to describe everything that is wrong with the company, but it is certainly dominated by nepotism. Nepotism toward white models, nepotism toward white actors, and nepotism toward white publishers,” said Steve Stoute, who in the 1990s led Urban Music at Sony Music and became the executive vice president of Interscope Geffen A&M, then launched a marketing and branding agency, Translation, working with the NBA, NFL, Jay-Z, Nas and Beyoncé, among others. “John Demsey was one of the first people to break that cycle.”

In an apology Mr Demsey published on February 25, he said he had not read the meme. But no one else had posted it for him. (While Mr. Demsey does not have a nondisclosure agreement, his financial settlement depends on him not bashing Estée Lauder, and he declined, through an attorney, to comment on this.) article.)

The meme was created by 39-year-old self-proclaimed Chingy superfan Chris Taliaferro, who is black, and said in an interview that the original post was intended as a nonsensical joke about people’s desire to party during a pandemic. . (A party rapper no more edgy than Bruno Mars, Chingy’s last big hit was in 2005.)

Mr. Taliaferro did not expect someone like Mr. Demsey to repost it.

“As a Caucasian executive in a multi-billion dollar company, you need to have situational awareness,” said Mr. Taliaferro, who declined to provide his title or occupation because his own employers have had issues with his positions. .