Estée Lauder senior executive John Demsey has been forced out of the company after he shared a meme on Instagram that featured a racist slur.
NBC News reports that Demsey was given notice on Monday, less than a week after he shared the offensive meme. “M n***a Snuffy done got the ’rona at a Chingy concert,” read the meme, with edited Sesame Street art. In a statement shared on Estée Lauder’s website, the company wrote that Demsey “must leave” his position 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,” reads the statement. “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.”
According to the New York Post, Demsey worked with the company for 31 years and his salary for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021 was $9.6 million. The graduate of Stanford and New York University’s Stern School of Business has worked in the cosmetics industry since the early ’90s.
In a post on Instagram last week, Demsey apologized for sharing the meme.
“I am terribly sorry and deeply ashamed that I hurt so many people when I made the horrible mistake of carelessly reposting a racist meme without reading it beforehand,” he wrote. “I am so sorry that I let down the company that I have dedicated my life’s work to as well as its employees, artists, friends, and colleagues. I hope that in time people will judge me, not for this awful mistake, but for my lifetime of words and actions, which demonstrate my respect for all people.”
Despite his exit from the company, a spokesperson for Estée Lauder said he was “not fired” and was simply told “he had to leave the company and is retiring this week.”