Since June, Condé Nast has been contending with rumblings of a toxic culture at the international media company’s New York headquarters. And now, the two lone Black editorial staff members of Bon Appétit quit the culinary-focused magazine amid tensions over race.
The New York Times reports that Ryan Walker-Hartshorn and Jesse Spark left the magazine this past Friday (August 7) after stating that their work at Bon Appétit was consistently undervalued. This comes on the heels of three other journalists of color stating openly they’ve opted out of appearing in the magazine’s video series because of payment disparities in comparison to their white counterparts.
“I’m no longer going to be in an environment where my value is constantly undermined,” Ms. Walker-Hartshorn, assistant to the editor in chief, said in an interview. “I feel like it’s a hostile work environment — from the corporate side. They’re not doing the real work.”
Mr. Sparks, an editorial assistant, added, “We’ve been doing the work editors do, but we haven’t been recognized that way.”
Sparks added, “What’s interesting is, we were at this lower level, but then we were often asked to help do a gut-check of things like newsletters communicating how Bon Appétit was responding to the criticism over race.” Sparks also said he felt as if he was essentially a “cultural consultant.”
Condé Nast shared in a statement that it listened to Walker-Hartshorn and Sparks and offered them advanced positions under the new editor. However, Sparks has already moved on to an editor’s position at Eater.
Bon Appétit’s former editor Adam Rapoport stepped down in June after images of him in an offensive costume surfaced online. There have been promises of diversity and change from the top execs Roger Lynch and Anna Wintour, but some staffers say that the toxic culture within Condé Nast has been ongoing for years.