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Days after an internal e-mail written by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, in which she acknowledges past “mistakes” and “hurtful” actions, was made public, several former employees have spoken out about their time working for the magazine.
Shelby Ivey Christie worked for Vogue and parent media organization Condé Nast in 2016 as a digital marketing and sales planner. In a series of tweets, Christie calls the time she spent at the company the “most challenging” and “miserable time of her career,” citing gruelling work hours, pay disparity for black employees as well as a toxic work environment where racist remarks were common.
Christie said that on one occasion, a white male executive arrived to a meeting with the digital business team wearing a chicken suit, gold chains and baggy pants. According to Christie, the unnamed executive began rapping to the entire team as a “kick-off” to the meeting. While Christie and other Black employees found the incident upsetting, she said the human resource (HR) department was laughing - and despite complaints from several Black employees, the man was not reprimanded or fired.
“There’s a video of this — we showed HR,” she continued. “They saw it and sent a lil email out vaguely addressing it [sic].”
Christie wrote that although her direct manager was Asian, he allegedly failed to act as an ally to the organization’s minorities.
“He knew how I was being treated and didn’t advocate for me — but to some extend he couldn’t because senior leadership also hazed and mistreated him for not being white-aligned enough,” she explained.
Diet Prada, a fashion watchdog account, shared tweets by Christie, as well as Zara Rahim, Vogue’s former director of communications.
According to Rahim, who worked for the organization in 2017, employees of colour were paid significantly less than their white counterparts, specifically the white woman who she replaced.
Rahim tweeted that she made $50,000 less than the woman she replaced, despite adding more to Rahim’s role than the previous employee.
“There are people who hold these keys and have held them for decades. They know what they are doing, fire them,” she wrote. “...The trauma I carry from Conde is something I have a hard time talking about. I was the only woman of colour in a leadership role. I’m non-black. I was told in the end I was ‘complaining too much.’”
Although not a Vogue employee, journalist Noor Tagouri shared her experience of being asked to write for the magazine after being previously misidentified in a 2019 issue for Noor Bukhari, a Pakistani actress.
Tagouri wrote on Twitter that the magazine denied issuing an apology for their misidentification, and would not publish a story by Tagouri profiling other women who have been misidentified. According to Tagouri, the magazine told her, “Vogue would not publish two diversity pieces in one calendar year.”
The incident was just one of many in which the magazine allegedly refused to take ownership for their misidentification issue and lack of diversity.