Neiman Marcus accused of favoring ‘gay or European men,’ ‘white and Asian women’ for top jobs

Neiman Marcus accused of favoring ‘gay or European men,’ ‘white and Asian women’ for top jobs
via Michael Balliet (left) , Geoffroy van Raemdonck (right)
Ryan General
February 16, 2024
Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus has been accused anonymously of favoring “gay or European men” and “white and Asian women” for top jobs.
What the allegations say: In a blog post published on Telegra.ph in Dec. 2023, anonymous employees accused CEO Geoffroy van Raemdonck of implementing a discriminatory hiring pattern since 2018, hiring and promoting mainly “gay or European men” and “white and Asian women” for senior vice president positions and above.  
The post also claimed that van Raemdonck discriminated against “the typical straight U.S. male” and against “anyone who has a longer tenure than him.” The group listed nearly 30 hires/promotions that allegedly reflected this bias and questioned the lack of internal promotions and transparency in hiring decisions.
“When will straight US men be welcomed at Neiman Marcus at the most senior levels? And the same for black leaders?” the blog post asked.
Impact of the allegations: The employees told the New York Post that they based their accusations on the company’s press releases and news stories over the past six years. Following the post’s publication, Chief Legal Officer Hannah Kim, who reported directly to van Raemdonck, resigned after being with the company for two and a half years.
Independent investigation’s findings: In response to the accusation, Neiman Marcus hired an independent law firm to investigate the claims. The investigation concluded “no evidence” that van Raemdonck or other hiring managers engaged in discriminatory practices in hiring or promotions for senior vice president positions and above.
Denying the accusations: Neiman Marcus provided statistics on workforce demographics and hiring practices. It noted that 13 heterosexual men currently hold senior positions in the company, representing over 30% of recent hires/promotions. The company also reportedly promoted 16 leaders internally, including “4 white, straight men; 1 Asian man and 1 black woman.”
DEI efforts: CEO van Raemdonck, who is gay, has been a proponent of LGBTQ+ inclusivity and has spearheaded diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives within the company. In highlighting its commitment to DEI efforts, the company stated that hiring decisions are based solely on qualifications, without consideration of race, gender, sexual orientation or any other protected characteristics. To ensure fair hiring, the company said it actively employs “bias interrupters” during hiring processes.
Response to the findings: The investigation which cleared Neiman Marcus of the alleged bias was met with skepticism by the group behind the blog post. They questioned its methodology and criticized the lack of transparency regarding specific details of the hires and promotions. Some believe a broader investigation, including named individuals, is necessary.
Others raised concerns about the high turnover of senior leadership and the departure of executives who challenged the status quo. Those who spoke out, consisting of “five or less” members (including two women), now express anxiety about potential retaliation.
 
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