“As society is changing, Condé Nast is changing,” CEO Roger Lynch said in a live video feed to open the company's presentation. “We need to listen, learn and take quick action to be a positive force in the industry.” He said the company is forming anti-racism advisory council to support its editorial teams, and that 30% of Condé Nast's workforce consists of people of color.
The company's presentation came two weeks after two prominent executives resigned amid accusations of racial bias. Matt Duckor, who oversaw lifestyle video programming, quit after employees claimed the company didn’t feature people of color in videos or pay them for appearances. Several tweets containing racist and homophobic comments recirculated on social media.
Bon Appetit editor Adam Rapoport also left the company amid allegations of racial discrimination, leading the food magazine to publish a devastating apology letter that practically condemned everything about its operations -- from pay inequities to cultural misappropriation in its recipes.
During Condé Nast's NewFronts presentation, Reginald Williams, senior vice president, digital programming, didn't shy away from mentioning the "elephant in the kitchen" at Bon Appetit. He said the magazine brand and the entire company are committed to diversity, including people who appear in its shows and who produce them.
A series called “Training My Double” for its GQSports channel on YouTube will be directed exclusively by Black filmmakers, Condé Nast said in a press release.
It will be interesting to see how the company follows through on its pledge to promote diversity, not only among its employees but also in its editorial content.
Part of the Condé Nast mystique is its air of exclusivity and appeal to luxury brands that want to reach wealthy shoppers. Balancing conspicuous consumption with social causes is a challenge, and also worthwhile.