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Estée Lauder fires senior executive for offensive Instagram post

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Estée Lauder on Monday said it had fired John Demsey after the senior executive had posted material on Instagram that "caused widespread offense." 

Demsey has taken down the post that led to his firing, which the Daily Beast reported was a meme that included a racial slur. In a recent post on Instagram, Demsey apologized for the meme, saying he was "terribly sorry" and that "the meme is the furthest thing from what I stand for and I should have never reposted it."

Demsey, who oversaw brands including Clinique and M.A.C. Cosmetics, joined Estée Lauder in 1991, and was active in several AIDS-related charities and organizations. In a 2019 interview with a fashion magazine, Demsey said the brand "embraced hip-hop culture," becoming an early beauty brand to do so. 

He also noted that as one becomes older, it "becomes increasingly challenging to remain connected with the upcoming generation."

The 65-year-old Demsey's firing comes as corporations are aiming to become more diverse, with many promising to hire and promote more Black workers in the wake of the George Floyd murder. While many beauty brands are promoting more diverse people in their marketing campaigns, some companies in the industry have an employee base that is only 2% to 3% Black, according to Essence. 

The memo announcing Demsey's firing, signed by executive chairman William P. Lauder and CEO Fabrizio Freda, said that Demsey's Instagram post was "damaging to our efforts to drive inclusivity both inside and outside our walls, and do not reflect the judgment we expect of our leaders."

They added, "Inclusion, diversity and equity are core to our company's values and priorities globally."

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