Vice Media Selects a Facebook Executive to Lead Refinery29

Refinery29, a fashion and beauty site whose previous top editor resigned under pressure in June, has a new global editor in chief: Simone Oliver, an executive at Facebook and Instagram, where she leads partnerships with magazines and lifestyle brands.

Vice Media, the owner of Refinery29, announced Wednesday that Ms. Oliver, who previously worked at The New York Times and Condé Nast, would start Sept. 30. She will oversee Refinery29’s articles, videos, audience engagement efforts and partnerships with clothing companies and other brands. The “global” in her title is a nod to the site’s offices in New York, London and Berlin.

Ms. Oliver, 38, will succeed Christene Barberich, a Refinery29 co-founder who stepped down in June after several former employees went public with accounts of workplace discrimination. In a social media post, one former Refinery29 staff member described “a toxic company culture where white women’s egos ruled.”

At the time of the complaints, Ms. Barberich, who is white, acknowledged “the raw and personal accounts of Black women and women of color regarding their experiences inside our company,” and said, “We have to do better.”

Ms. Oliver, who is Black, was the digital director of the Condé Nast beauty magazine Allure before her three-year stint at Facebook and its sibling site Instagram. At The Times, she was an editor and producer who led several early digital initiatives. In 2011, as the digital editor of Styles, she started @newyorktimesfashion, the paper’s first Instagram account.

“At the time, the philosophy was Instagram didn’t bring value because it didn’t garner clicks,” Ms. Oliver said. “My philosophy was that we need to go where readers are.”

In a statement on Wednesday, Nancy Dubuc, Vice Media’s chief executive, credited Ms. Simone’s “forward-thinking approach to content and strategic media expertise.”

Ms. Dubuc has worked to bring about changes in Vice Media’s workplace culture since taking charge in 2018. A 2017 New York Times investigation uncovered four settlements involving Vice Media employees and allegations of sexual harassment or defamation.

The company acquired Refinery29 last year in a deal valued at roughly $400 million. The lifestyle site was brought in to complement Vice Media’s main offerings, which appeal to a largely male audience.

In June, Ms. Barberich was among the high-ranking white editors who resigned after staff members complained publicly about institutionalized racism and sexism at media outlets, a reckoning that came about against a backdrop of nationwide civil rights protests.

Leaders of Condé Nast, The Times, Hearst Magazines and other media companies pledged to improve their hiring practices by looking beyond the pool of white male job candidates. Ms. Oliver was named to the Refinery29 post two weeks after Dawn Davis, a Black publishing executive, was named the next editor in chief of Condé Nast’s Bon Appétit. The previous Bon Appétit editor, Adam Rapoport, resigned after a 2004 photo of him wearing an offensive costume resurfaced on social media.

Ms. Oliver said she had spoken with several staff members about Refinery29’s workplace environment. “We can push even more on giving new and diverse voices — and not just race and gender — a seat at the table,” she said.

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