The president of Hearst’s magazine division resigned Thursday, one day after The New York Times reported on his history of lewd, sexist remarks in the workplace.
The executive, Troy Young, was elevated to lead the magazine division in 2018 as the face of digital transformation, even though at least four employees had complained about what they viewed as bullying and harassing conduct to the human resources department or senior executives, according to four former Hearst employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation.
The Times reported Wednesday that Mr. Young had made suggestive comments about sex toys, emailed pornography to a senior editor and made explicit remarks to a junior employee.
On Thursday afternoon, Mr. Young, 52, sent an email to staff apologizing for his behavior but characterizing The Times’s report as a misrepresentation of “the culture that we have built at Hearst Magazines.” He said he was “deeply reflective on what I can learn from this moment” and was “committed to the work I need to do here.”
“I recognize that the incidents cited in the NYT article are particularly offensive to women and I want to make clear they do not represent who I am as a person nor do they reflect some of the most important relationships in my life,” he wrote in the email.
Five hours later, Hearst’s chief executive, Steven R. Swartz, emailed staff to say he and Mr. Young had agreed it was in “the best interest of all of us” that Mr. Young resign, effective immediately.
“I honestly never thought this day would happen and I have tears of relief and shock streaming down my face,” Abby Gardner, a former digital director for Cosmopolitan, posted on Twitter.
In the Times article, Michelle Ruiz, a former senior editor at Cosmopolitan, described an encounter with Mr. Young that took place before he was promoted and when she was heavily pregnant. “So, is the baby mine?” he said, as she recalled it.
“For an executive at the company to suggest that he’d impregnated me was clearly inappropriate,” said Ms. Ruiz, now a contributing editor at Vogue.com. “There’s a real hypocrisy to elevating this man to lead a company populated with magazines that are preaching women’s empowerment on their covers.”
Current and former Hearst Magazines staff members also described a culture of discrimination that has long been ignored.
Prachi Gupta, who covered politics for the Cosmopolitan site during the 2016 presidential campaign, said she felt that Black and brown women were made to “feel less than equal” at the company.
“Because there were no women of color in leadership positions, I was not able to seek advice or counsel when I was pushed into some of the uncomfortable positions,” she told The Times.
In a June 6 Twitter post, Ms. Gupta, who is Indian-American, wrote: “From the get-go, I was tokenized. A white P.R. person at Hearst told me that it would be easy to book me for media appearances because my look was ‘very on trend,’ and it was clear she meant that I wasn’t white.”
”I’m glad to hear that Mr. Young is stepping down,” Ms. Gupta said on Thursday. “If the company is interested in fostering a better culture, this should be a starting point that includes many other structural changes throughout the organization.”