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This trans woman alleges MAC Cosmetics created a hostile work environment

This trans woman alleges MAC Cosmetics created a hostile work environment

A MAC Cosmetics counter

Drew Dalziel-Mckinley, a 27-year-old trans woman from East London, alleges that while working for MAC Cosmetics, she was subject to verbal abuse.

Drew’s story

She began working for MAC in April 2016.

‘[I believed] MAC represented people of diversity. All ages, all races, all sexes. I was drawn [to that] credo which I had never seen another brand have before,’ Dalziel-Mckinley tells GSN via email.

Dalziel-Mckinley began her physical transition in 2017, a year into working for the company.

London-based MAC Cosmetics employee Drew Dalziel-Mckinley
London-based MAC Cosmetics employee Drew Dalziel-Mckinley Drew Dalziel-Mckinley

‘MAC later changed the credo replacing “sexes” with “genders,” leading up to the Caitlyn Jenner collection. This made me feel included 100%.’

However, this new ‘inclusive’ makeup collection didn’t stop Dalziel-Mckinley from experiencing harassment by higher-ups at the company. This behavior included misgendering, deadnaming, and not taking her complaints seriously.

Transphobic abuse

‘I have been misgendered countless times by a manager, complained via email and [in a] grievance meeting with regional and executive sales managers, with the outcome that the specific manager did not do it out of malice.’

‘I have corrected this individual personally and the behavior continued as they continued to get away with it. 5 weeks of an ignored email, I continued to work showing dedication to a brand I was starting to lose faith in.’

‘Further to this, I had been sent two email inviting me to a training day with my previous name, I believe as a tactic to bully me. I then came to the conclusion through a grievance response (which took 6 weeks after the meeting) that when I changed my details in 2017 they created a “duplicate” account. This duplicate had been there for over a year. Prior to this, I had two invites to training July 2017 and January 2018 with the correct name. I find it hard believe that all of a sudden since I’ve made a stand against transphobic behaviors that I now [in] 2018, receive my previous name on a work related email.’

‘I still to this day, now in October 2018, have not received the full reason of how this happened.’

‘After having my first grievance meeting, I was moved up to the 3rd floor to keep me and a manager separate from working together. Had MAC management seen no issue, why move me? If you genuinely believe there was no malice.’

‘Upon me being on separate counter, another manager referred to themselves as looking like “fucking t*anny” after receiving a compliment by a member of staff as a way of dismissing the compliment and making it a negative thing. The whole team was alarmed by the comment and did not want to tell me. Being the only transgender woman on the team, I could only take offense. It was never managed.’

Change in management

This past year, Dalziel-Mckinley notes, has seen a huge turnaround in management.

‘They did this hoping to improve the sales of the counter,’ she explains.

‘Managers came from other stores that, to be honest, lacked much diversity and inclusivity based on the areas they were in previously. Coming to central London would have been a big culture shock. Regardless [of you being a] manager of a brand with such a strong credo, you should be professional and respectful. This is why I have expressed [the need for] training for all employees.’

Such employee sensitivity training never occurred, and Dalziel-Mckinley experienced similar issues with the new managers.

‘Once a new manager started at my location, I was continuously misgendered. Higher management ignored of all my concerns. Because the discrimination is now in writing, it is classified proof they had to look into it. Otherwise I would have still been ignored and not being treated as any other case of discrimination would be treated.’

‘During all of this, I asked for an outcome of written apologies from the management for their neglect of duty and care for every ignored cry for help, for those particular managers to apologize [for the] transphobic behaviors, and for their to be training in place for diversity within the brand, not only for LGBT, but for every minority that work for the brand.’

‘In two grievances, I have been granted with neither. They have failed every member of staff as this is how they deal with discrimination. This is how they treat their diverse staff which they claim to represent, in their credo the public believes in.’

Other issues with MAC

‘MAC Cosmetics used to be a great company,’ Dalziel-Mckinley says. ‘They no longer represent a credo that is outdated and they need to do better. They continue to abuse staff who aren’t money making machines.’

Dalziel-Mckinley describes a preview for a new advert that MAC UK created called ‘what’s your thing.’ In the ad, there was a white middle-aged woman made to represent a ‘clean’ makeup look. The woman said, ‘I like my makeup clean like my skin.’

After viewing the ad, the trainer informed the employees that the term was being changed to ‘fresh’ instead of ‘clean.’

‘This made me also question their credo,’ Dalziel-Mckinley says. ‘Why change it if it is not set out to be offensive, especially with a credo that states “all races.”’

‘They knew people of color would be offended. I empathize with the people of color that had to watch the preview before watching the final edit. I am of a mixed heritage. My father being mixed race. I was offended.’

‘I feel like my issues and other issues within the brand were not taken seriously because the head office lacks diversity. If you do not have a vast understanding team from the top of the brand, eventually you will see ignorance trickle down to the bottom. Our personal struggles are being capitalized to earn money and it’s wrong.’

Naming and Shaming salespeople

‘MAC also has a social media platform for staff where each week, they post up people’s weekly target results and give them personal feedback publicly, for other trainers, managers and members of staff to see. This is done as a scare tactic to perform, as no one wants to be named and shamed in not achieving a target for brand who is rapidly losing money due to being behind trend to up-and-coming beauty brands.’

‘If you worked for the brand, you would know that there is next to no diversity once you get to the trainers, higher management, and regional management,’ Dalziel-Mckinley states.

‘Today I will end my silence to hopefully create an awareness and change for the brand to do better. Practice what you preach.’

GSN has reached out to Estee Lauder (MAC’s parent company) for comment.

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