About two months ago, I wrote a piece on the Conde Nast/Bon Appetit diversity scandal. In essence, they were significantly underpaying employees based on race along with perpetuating a workplace culture riddled with racial micro-aggression.
A more detailed backstory and my initial take on the matter can be found at ShoutoutUK – Lessons in diversity from the Bon Appétit scandal
Since the publication of the above article, apparently there has been intensive internal movement and restructuring in the company. There was hope, that the massive media traction this story gained would help facilitate positive policy changes. However, this is not the case.
This week four of the five ethnically diverse cast members (featuring on Bon Appetit’s popular youtube channel) have made public announcements to no longer appear on video.
“After five weeks of contract negotiations, it is clear that I will not get a fair pay rate nor will I get a comparable number of appearances to my colleagues in the test kitchen,” wrote Rick Andrew Martinez, a contributing author at the magazine. Sohla el Wally, Priya Krishna and, Gaby Melian have also officially severed ties with Bon Appetit.
According to a report by Business Insider, the new pay structure presented to these cast members leaves them exposed to a pay cut from their previous compensation, rather than a raise.
Joe Rosenthal, a food scientist who carries out private investigations into controversies in the restaurant world, has also brought up more instances of the inherently toxic culture at Bon Appetit. While I could not find any additional sources for these claims, the evidence provided by him is enough to at least consider the following. Again, these are just allegations and I cannot speak for their verity.
Danielle Carrig, Chief Communications Officer has threatened staff into silence by both – the company actively looking into a new “diversity cast” and by asserting that employee social media is being monitored. Furthermore, the suspension of Matt Hunziker, editor of the cult classic show “It’s Alive”, (well documented and verified fact by test kitchen members) was ordered directly from officials higher up to make an example of “whistleblowers”.
There is also the matter of inaction against Alex Delany, whose racist, sexist and homophobic views have been seen on various social media platforms. The supposed active interviewing of new BIPOC cast members, and blatantly unprogressive stances of current leadership (see tweets by their Entertainment Chief) that are cause for concern.
All in all, I think this post by “Meme Appetit” sums up the situation.
In all seriousness, this entire fallout has been a masterclass the realities of upholding status quo and how directly and disparately it hurts those who already need to fight for the spaces they occupy. BIPOC are more than just tokens for showing inclusivity and its about time their perspectives were respected.