An Estee Lauder executive's 30-year stretch with the company has come to an end, after a social media post that the company says caused "widespread offense." CNN Business reports that John Demsey has been fired and will be exiting his job this week, after recent posts on Instagram that "do not reflect the values of the Estee Lauder Companies," according to a company statement. An Estee Lauder spokeswoman tells the Wall Street Journal that the 65-year-old exec agreed to retire.
That paper details the now-deleted post that helped lead to Demsey's demise with the company: a meme he published last week showing a spoof book cover based on Sesame Street that included the n-word, with some of the letters blocked out with asterisks. CNN notes the meme was apparently making a joke about COVID-19. Estee Lauder suspended Demsey without pay after complaints about the post. Now that pay suspension is permanent.
In a Friday Instagram post, Demsey conceded the meme was racist and said he was "terribly sorry and deeply ashamed" for putting it up "without reading it beforehand." "Not only did I hurt many people whom I respect, the terrible mistake that I made has undermined everything I have been working for since I began my career 31 years ago," he wrote. The company says of Demsey, who's overseen its MAC Cosmetics and Clinique brands, that the commotion Demsey caused has been "damaging to our efforts to drive inclusivity both inside and outside our walls, and do not reflect the judgment we expect of our leaders." (Read more Estee Lauder stories.)