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Estée Lauder Companies
Estée Lauder Companies

Estée Lauder employees demand removal of company heir over Trump support

TextAlex Peters

They have also voiced concerns over the company’s response to the Black Lives Matter protests

Employees of Estée Lauder Companies, one of the world’s largest beauty businesses which owns brands including MAC, Le Labo, and Clinique, have called for the removal of board member and family heir Ronald Lauder over his support for President Trump.

In a letter seen by Bloomberg, over 100 employees asked for Lauder to be ousted from the company over his donations to the president and his impact on race relations within the company, with staff criticising the response to the protests against police violence which they believe to be inadequate. 

“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 states.

The son of Estée and Joseph Lauder, Lauder is a longtime Republican and served as a diplomat under Ronald Reagan. Since rejoining Estée Lauder Companies’s board of directors in 2016, he has reportedly made more than $1.6 million in political contributions to pro-Trump organisations. Lauder attended university with Trump and has called the president “a man of incredible insight and intelligence.”

In the wake of George Floyd’s muder by white police officers and the conversations around systemic racism and white supremacy that have arisen in response, beauty brands have been releasing statements and pledging donations in solidarity with the Black community. Estée Lauder employees say that the short statements on racial inequality released by many of its brands have not been enough. MAC Cosmetics, for example, does not mention racism, the protests, or police brutality in its statement nor does it share any information on resources, donations or actions it will be taking to address the issues. The brand previously pledged $10 million from its VIVA GLAM Fund to communities affected by COVID-19.

On Thursday, Estée Lauder told staff it would donate $1 million in support of the Black community. In the letter, employees ask for this donation to be increased to $5 million. In March, Estée Lauder Companies made a $2 million donation to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières to support the organisation’s work in countries highly impacted by the pandemic.

In a statement to Bloomberg, an Estée Lauder spokesperson said the company respects everyone’s right to make their own political decisions and that Lauder’s views don’t represent that of the company. “This week, several employees asked whether a single member of the Lauder family and our board, represents the views of our company,” the statement reads. “The answer is no.”

To find out which beauty brands have been donating and speaking out about Black Lives Matter and the protests, read our running list here.

UPDATE 05/06

Employees of Estée Lauder Companies have set up a petition collecting signatures for the removal of Lauder from the board. As of writing the petition has 1,429 signatures. You can also read the full letter here.

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