After more than three decades at the makeup giant Estée Lauder, senior executive John Demsey lost his job in mere days over a meme with the N-word that he posted to his Instagram page.
“Today, John Demsey, Executive Group President, The Estée Lauder Companies, was informed he must leave the company, effective this week,” the company announced on Monday, in a statement from executive chairman William Lauder and CEO Fabrizio Freda.
Dempsey’s social media posts, the statement said, “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.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the controversy last week, one of Demsey’s Instagram posts bizarrely featured a “spoof” Sesame Street book cover.
He was suspended last Tuesday while the company investigated the situation.
Demsey later posted a statement to his Instagram page claiming he had posted the image “without reading it beforehand” and said he was “terribly sorry and deeply ashamed.”
“The meme is the furthest thing from what I stand for and I should have never reposted it,” he added. “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.”Evidently the makeup giant didn’t buy that excuse—or didn’t care. Estée Lauder will now need a new leader to supervise the Clinique and MAC brands, which fell under Demsey’s mandate.