Estée Lauder Employees Seek to Oust Company Heir Over Political Ties

Respect, equality, and inclusion are the beauty behemoth’s pillars.

As brands across the globe search for the right words in response to the civil unrest roiling the streets from London to Los Angeles, many companies are taking stock of internal operations, weeding out any silos that don’t fully align with consumer values. That being said, employees of beauty conglomerate Estée Lauder are calling for the resignation of family heir and board member, Ronald Lauder.

According to BoF, following a company-wide town hall meeting, held on June 4, morale was low as workers felt Estée Lauder wasn’t attuned to the political climate, having hoped brand pillars would guide a stronger political voice in a time when actions and outreach hold greater value than bottom-line figures. On June 5, north of 100 signatories sealed a letter sent to company Chairman William Lauder, reviewed by Bloomberg News, citing Ronald Lauder’s political affiliations and allegiance to Donald Trump’s presidency to be in contradiction with brand ethos and detrimental to the company’s internal and external ties with stakeholders.

“Ronald Lauder’s involvement with the Estée Lauder Companies is damaging to our corporate values, our relationship with the Black community, our relationship with this company’s Black employees, and this company’s legacy,” the letter reads.

Ronald Lauder, 78, is the son of company founders, Estée and Joseph Lauder, and is staunchly aligned with the Republican Party. His seat as a diplomat under Ronald Regan’s presidency anticipated his run for New York mayor on the red ballot in 1989, only to be triumphed by Rudy Giuliani, followed by a rejoining of the family company’s board of directors in 2016. According to federal disclosures, Lauder has endowed more than $1.6 million to benefit pro-Trump initiatives, yet as of Thursday the company intends to donate $1 million on behalf of the black community; employees have asked Estée Lauder to scale their donative to $5 million.

As news of the potential ouster circulates, a spokesperson for Estée Lauder has told Teen Vogue, “While we respect everyone’s right to make their own political decisions, no single individual represents the views of our company. As a company, we stand firm on the values in which we are founded: respect, equality, and inclusion.”

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Change is coming, and it is necessary. We will be a part of it. #PullUpOrShutUp @pullupforchange ⁣⁣⁠⠀ ⁣⁣⁠⠀ The percentages shared of our People of Color and Black employee base have been pulled from our HR database, representative of our employees as of May 2020 in the U.S. We understand that asking employees to check a box is an antiquated system. People identify in many ways – we recognize that and realize there may be flaws in our data given this.⁣⁣⁠⠀ ⁣⁣⁠⠀ We have been committed to Inclusion and Diversity across our brands, functions and regions for many years, and realize that what we have done so far is not enough. In addition to supporting organizations addressing the systematic racial injustices against Black communities, we will be looking inward at our own policies and patterns and addressing those that do not live up to our values accordingly and quickly.⁣⁣⁠⠀ ⁣⁣⁠⠀ We will share more on our actions soon.⁣⁣

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