American luxury retailer Neiman Marcus has come under fire after its CEO Geoffroy van Raemdonck has been accused of discrimination in key hires and promotions, allegedly filling top jobs with mostly “gay or European men” and “white and Asian women,” as per a report in the New York Post.
The company hired an independent investigator to probe these accusations, however, they found “no evidence” that the CEO or any senior hiring managers “engaged in the conduct described in the allegations,” the company said in an email to the outlet.
Almost 30 senior vice presidents have been appointed or promoted under Mr Van Raemdonck since 2018, according to an explosive blog post from an anonymous group of Neiman Marcus workers. The majority of these appointments or promotions appear to demonstrate “a bias” and a pattern of not promoting from within. “Today, Geoffroy’s direct reports consist only of white and Asian women and gay men. He favours men who are gay and/or European. Just like him. What does Diversity, Equity and Inclusion mean at Neiman Marcus?” the employees added. “Is it for everyone or just the groups deemed important by Geoffroy?” they said.
The 117-year-old retailer refuted the discrimination claims. In a statement to the outlet, Neiman said, “Thirteen straight men represent almost over 30 per cent of the senior hires and promotion” at the company. The statement added that Neiman has promoted “16 leaders from within” including “4 white, straight men; 1 Asian man and 1 black woman.” They added that it has “hired and promoted 9 straight, white men; 3 straight minority men; 1 Hispanic woman.” “This bears no relationship to the supposed pattern of bias described in the web post,” the company said.
The blog post’s authors retorted that Neiman’s statistics on executives who were hired and promoted were “confusing” and “not transparent” as the names of the employees were withheld. Further, Chief Legal Officer Hannah Kim, who reported directly to the CEO, resigned in late December after two and a half years with the company. Mr Van Raemdonck’s other direct reports include two white women and two gay men, as per the company’s website.
The staff members also assert that the company’s top leadership lacks institutional business experience, which contrasts sharply with the previous management group, many of whom had worked for the retail establishment for decades. “He’s never valued anyone who has a longer tenure than him,” the employees wrote of the CEO. The group of current employees stated in the blog post that it based its analysis on both public statements and institutional memory. “If this list isn’t complete, it’s very close and is a robust data set,” the employees said, discussing the names of leaders ranked senior vice president and above who were hired or promoted in the past five years.
The blog post claims that the reason the accusing employees didn’t contact HR for information was because they were afraid of “retaliation.”