Dear R29’ers, former and present,
We’ve read and heard the accounts by many of you about your experience of working at Refinery29.
Even though we’re no longer at the company, as co-founders and former Co-CEOs, at the end of the day the buck — and the culture — stopped with us.
To the many employees, specifically our Black and POC community, who have shared painful and upsetting stories: We are so sorry. We are sorry that those were your experiences within our walls — that you dreaded coming to work, that you felt tokenized, that you doubted yourself, and felt that you didn’t belong. There are no excuses.
After having read these accounts, we recognize how our privilege as two white male CEOs created blinders that kept us from seeing the struggles, exclusion, and aggressions that you felt at R29. This is an earthquake of a wake-up call.
We wanted to create an inclusive environment but didn’t spend enough time with team members listening to them and hearing their stories. We created an ambitious mission, but that mission is undermined if what you preach on the outside doesn’t fully match the world inside.
The steps we implemented to address these issues over the years clearly weren’t enough.
The new leadership team has laid out actions and next steps to address your complaints and to put the company on a course towards a more inclusive future. We will support whatever is necessary to do a full review. Nothing is more important.
To all of the R29 team: We know this is a very tough moment. You are creating important, powerful content every day, and continuously providing opportunities to emerging voices and creative talents. Do not forget that the work you’ve done has been a change agent in the industry — from the Shatterbox film initiative, to helping drive policy change in the UK, to the daring editorial platforms that have challenged taboos — this team of writers and creators has pushed many conversations forward. And we know you will continue to do so.
Philippe & Justin