Estée Lauder fires senior exec for racist meme on Instagram

by Mike Creef, Staff Writer
Estée Lauder fires senior exec for racist meme on Instagram
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Estée Lauder, one of the world’s largest cosmetic companies, announced they have fired senior executive John Demsey after he posted a racially insensitive meme on his Instagram account.

Demsey served as the company’s executive group president. He was with the company for more than three decades.

In a statement posted to their website Monday, the cosmetics company said that Demsey’s firing was a result of his “recent Instagram posts, which do not reflect the values of the Estée Lauder Companies” — saying his posts caused “widespread offense.”

Estée Lauder isn’t playing around

Dear Colleagues,

Today, John Demsey, Executive Group President, The Estée Lauder Companies, was informed he must leave the company, effective this week.

This decision is the result of his recent Instagram posts, which do not reflect the values of The Estée Lauder Companies, have caused widespread offense, are damaging to our efforts to drive inclusivity both inside and outside our walls, and do not reflect the judgment we expect of our leaders.

Inclusion, diversity and equity are core to our company’s values and priorities globally. Furthermore, over the past two years, we have worked together as an organization to advance our approach to racial equity and have taken a hard look at where we can and should do better. Together we are making progress against our commitments to our employees, our partners, and consumers.

Our employees, and especially our senior leaders, are accountable to continue driving our progress and to respect the values of this company for the long term. 


William P. Lauder, Executive Chairman

Fabrizio Freda, President and CEO

Demsey is being allowed to leave Estée Lauder and retire, according to a recent regulatory filing.

EstRacially insensitive Instagram post

The now-deleted Instagram post was posted to Demsey’s account last week. Dempsey was suspended while the Estée Lauder launched an investigation

Over the weekend, Demsey posted an apology to Instagram where he claimed he “made the horrible mistake of carelessly reposting a racist meme without reading it beforehand.”

The meme Demsey claims to not have read has 11 words on it. It cost him his $10 million salary at Estée Lauder.

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