The top editor at Refinery29 has resigned amid complaints by former staffers of a toxic work culture that favored white employees.
Christene Barberich, the 15-year-old, female-focused site’s longtime global editor in chief who also was one of its founding members, announced on Monday she was stepping down after a handful of former employees took to Twitter last week to complain about the company’s unfair treatment of people of color over the years.
“I’ve read and taken in the raw and personal accounts of Black women and women of color regarding their experiences inside our company at Refinery29,” wrote Barberich, who helped co-found the site along with Philippe von Borries, Justin Stefano and Piera Gelardi.
The editor said Refinery29, which was acquired by Vice Media last October, needs “a new voice” that can “shape and guide the critical stories that have the real power to shift and disrupt our culture, helping to eliminate institutional barriers that separate us and hold our society back.”
“We have to do better, and that starts with making room,” Barberich wrote in an Instagram post. “And, so I will be stepping aside in my role at R29 to help diversify our leadership in editorial and ensure this brand and the people it touches can spark a new defining chapter.”
Last week, former deputy director of news and politics Ashley Alese Edwards was among ex-employees who blasted working conditions at Refinery29.
“It’s really time WE as a community hold these brands accountable,” Edwards wrote. “You know what real ally-ship looks like? Paying your black employees fairly, having black women in top leadership positions & addressing the micro-aggressions your black employees deal with from management on a daily basis.”