Estee Lauder executive fired after posting racist Instagram meme

John Demsey was asked by the company to leave and has since agreed to retire, the company states. He posted content that included a racial insult.

Estee Lauder executive fired after posting racist Instagram meme

Estee Lauder's top executive is being fired after posting a racist meme to social media. The company made the announcement Monday.

John Demsey is the executive group president of the cosmetics company based in New York City. He posted material to his Instagram account this week that did not "reflect The Estee Lauder Companies' values," according to a statement on the company's website.

According to the statement, the post was "damaging to our efforts for inclusivity both inside-and outside of our walls" and doesn't "reflect our judgments about our leaders."

"Inclusion, diversity, and equity are the core values of our company's global priorities and values. The statement added that we have been working together over the past two year to improve our approach to racial equality and have taken a hard view at what we should and could do better.

The employees were given the statement. It included Fabrizio Freda, president, and chief executive officer, William P. Lauder.

A company spokesperson confirmed Monday that the post was a Sesame Street-themed meme about Covid-19 and used a racial slur. It was removed from Demsey’s Instagram account.

A spokesperson stated that John was not fired but was told to leave the company. He is now retiring this week.

Demsey was unable to be reached immediately for comment Monday.

On Saturday, he posted an apology on Instagram.

"I am deeply sorry and ashamed that I have caused so much pain to so many people by reposting a racist meme inadvertently without having read it first. The post stated that there aren't enough words to express my regret and sorrow.

"I not only hurt many people I respect, but the terrible mistake I made has undermined all that I have worked for since I started my career 31-years ago. Demsey stated that the meme was far from what I stand for, and she should not have reposted it.

"I'm so sorry I had to leave the Company I've dedicated my entire life to, as well as its employees and artists, friends, or colleagues. I hope people will not judge me for this terrible mistake but for the lifetime of words, actions and respect that I have shown for everyone.

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