NEW YORK, United States — In a town hall Zoom meeting with Condé Nast employees on Friday led by senior executives, Chief Executive Officer Roger Lynch confirmed that Anna Wintour will not be resigning from her roles at the publisher. The Vogue editor in chief, who also serves as US artistic director and global content advisor for the publishing house, did not speak. But Lynch was clear in his support of her, stating that she will be a powerful force for change in the business.
“There are very few people in the world who can have the influence on change and culture, as it relates to the activities that our business has, than Anna,” Lynch said. “The reason she is here is because she can help influence the change that we need to make, and I know she is committed to it.”
New speculation that Wintour might give up her post at the top of the fashion magazine hit a fever pitch on Thursday and Friday. A chaotic week at Condé Nast had employees speak out about discrimination in the workplace and pay inequities, resulting in the resignation of Bon Appétit Editor-in-Chief Adam Rappaport and VP of Video Matt Duckor.
In the company meeting on Friday, Condé Nast executives laughed off the rumours about Wintour, which have dogged her for years and escalated most recently in 2018, resulting in months of speculative coverage made more intense by the absence of a clear denial from then-Chief Executive Bob Sauerberg until months after the questions began.
In a memo sent to Vogue staff on June 5, Wintour acknowledged that under her leadership, Vogue has “not found enough ways to elevate and give space to” black creatives, and that the magazine has published “hurtful or intolerant” images and features. “I take full responsibility for those mistakes,” she wrote.
After the resignation of Rappaport on Monday night, Lynch hosted a first town hall meeting the following day to address concerns. Many employees then criticised him on social media for appearing to blame employees for not speaking up about discrimination earlier. He promised the company would conduct an internal study on diversity and salaries by the end of the summer.
On Thursday night, the New York Times published a column that questioned if Condé Nast’s “culture built on elitism and exclusion” could possibly change during this moment when so many are asking for institutions to examine if their workplaces promote equality and diversity. Former employees spoke about the challenges they faced getting internal resources while struggling to combat lazy stereotypes. But no one “felt free to speak on the record,” a testament still to Wintour’s influence in the industry and the already challenging media job market, pushed to the limit by the coronavirus.
Friday’s town hall — during which Lynch spoke along with Chief Communications Officer Danielle Carrig, Chief People Officer Stan Duncan and Chief Marketing Officer Deirdre Findlay — will be the first in a daily series of employee meetings hosted by Lynch as Condé Nast tries to figure out how to become a more inclusive workplace. Lynch said he hoped Wintour would address the company herself next week.
Wintour has avoided addressing speculation about her departure in the past. When asked about her potential exit in August 2018 by BoF, she said: “I’ve never addressed [the rumours]. That is my point of view; respect it, please.”