Employees of the cosmetic giant Estee Lauder have written a letter to Chairman William Lauder demanding that he fire board member Ronald Lauder because of his contributions to Donald Trump and conservative causes. They are also demanding the $3 billion company show more support to black groups, including Black Lives Matter.
“Ronald Lauder’s involvement with the Estee 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 said.
Among their grievances are Lauder’s political contributions to President Trump. The son of founders Estee and Joseph Lauder, Ronald Lauder, 76, is a longtime Republican, having served as a diplomat under Ronald Reagan before running for mayor of New York in the 1980s and losing to Rudy Giuliani. Since rejoining Estee Lauder’s board of directors in 2016, he has made more than $1.6 million in political contributions to pro-Trump organizations, according to federal disclosures.
During the “Red Scare” of the 1950s, companies were terrified of running afoul of anti-Communists by hiring anyone with questionable credentials or belonging to or contributing to groups suspected of being “disloyal.” This “New McCarthyism” is a carbon copy. If you are not sufficiently vocal in demonstrating your love and support of black groups, you become a target. If you don’t think a certain way, you become a target. If you give to the wrong candidate, you become a target.
The company told employees they were doing all they can and that Ronald Lauder does not speak for Estee Lauder.
A spokesperson for Estee Lauder said the organization respects everyone’s right to make their own political decisions and that his 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 company said in a statement Thursday. “The answer is no.”
In an internal memo dated June 1, William Lauder and Chief Executive Officer Fabrizio Freda told employees the organization would speak out against racial injustice and provide funding to community groups. On Thursday, Estee Lauder told staff it would donate $1 million in support of the black community. In the letter, employees ask for Estee Lauder to increase this to $5 million.
It’s not enough. And the point is, it will never be enough. The issue isn’t $1 million or $5 million in contributions. It’s power. And there is nothing more powerful than having the power to destroy.
Seeking to destroy Ronald Lauder — a distinguished public servant who served as ambassador in the Reagan administration and is president of the World Jewish Congress — is an exercise in activist politics. Who will be targeted next?