Adam Rapoport's assistant of nearly 3 years gives an up-close view of the fallen editor in chief — and how Bon Appétit failed its staffers of color
- Business Insider spoke with 14 current and former contributors or employees at Bon Appétit, all of whom identify as people of color.
- Among these employees was Ryan Walker-Hartshorn, the only Black woman on staff at the magazine and the assistant to
Adam Rapoport, Bon Appétit's editor in chief, who resigned on Monday.
- Walker-Hartshorn said Rapoport repeatedly denied her requests for a raise, most recently on June 4. She said she made $35,300 before overtime and had not received a raise during her time at Bon Appétit.
- "I am the only Black woman on his staff," Walker-Hartshorn said. "He treats me like the help."
- A Condé Nast representative said the company is "listening and are taking seriously the concerns raised by our Bon Appétit team members."
- Interviews with Walker-Hartshorn and more than a dozen other current and former employees show that the issues at Bon Appétit go beyond Rapoport. Read the full investigation here.
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On June 4, Ryan Walker-Hartshorn sat on the phone with Bon Appétit's editor in chief, Adam Rapoport. She had worked as Rapoport's assistant for two years and nine months and had repeatedly asked for a raise.
"I thought this conversation might be different this time," Walker-Hartshorn said in a recent interview. The May 25 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis had changed the conversation in media and at Condé Nast, which owns Bon Appétit.
Rapoport had written in a newsletter on May 31 that "food is inherently political." Condé Nast had just donated $1 million to racial-justice organizations amid global protests. And Rapoport, who had been checking in on Walker-Hartshorn throughout the demonstrations, was aware she had been unable to pay rent for three months.
However, Rapoport again denied a pay raise for the only Black woman on the magazine's staff.
Walker-Hartshorn, who earns just $35,300 before overtime, had not received a pay raise during her time at Bon Appétit. Aside from her official editorial duties, she said, she had cleaned Rapoport's golf clubs, fetched his son's passport, and taught his wife how to use Google Calendar.
During the nearly half-hour phone call with Rapoport on June 4, Walker-Hartshorn laid out her reasoning for a raise — or, failing that, a two-week vacation.
Instead, Walker-Hartshorn said, Rapoport told her, "Well, maybe you should consider that this is not the right job for you."
"I am the only Black woman on his staff," Walker-Hartshorn said. "He treats me like the help."
On Monday, Rapoport announced his resignation following a furious outcry over recent allegations of racism put forth by several people who had worked with Bon Appétit.
The anger stemmed in part from a photo of Rapoport that circulated on Twitter on Monday, showing him dressed in a Halloween costume intended to be stereotypically Puerto Rican. Many called his costume "brownface," which Rapoport denies. In text messages to Business Insider, he said: "On the record: I was not wearing makeup or face coloring of any sort in that photograph." (Rapoport keeps a framed copy of this photo in his desk, according to Walker-Hartshorn.)
A Condé Nast representative said the company is "listening and are taking seriously the concerns raised by our Bon Appétit team members." To that effect, the representative said, the company is "accelerating" its diversity-and-inclusion report, to publish this summer, and a pay-equity analysis, to publish at the end of 2020.
"As a global media company, Condé Nast is dedicated to creating a diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace," the representative wrote. "We have a zero-tolerance policy toward discrimination and harassment in all forms."
Interviews with 14 current and former employees show that the issues at Bon Appétit go beyond Rapoport. These employees told Business Insider that the problem runs to the core of the institution, saying that Bon Appétit does not provide nonwhite employees the same opportunities on the brand's video side that white employees enjoy, that it excludes nonwhite employees from social and professional groups, and that it regularly misrepresents or does not represent stories from nonwhite backgrounds.
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