Bon Appétit video editor Matt Hunziker has returned to work after a suspension — but co-workers say his forced leave shows how Condé Nast is stifling voices of dissent

  • Bon Appétit video editor Matt Hunziker returned to work at Condé Nast on August 10. 
  • Hunziker, who works on "It's Alive with Brad Leone," was suspended in late June. A Condé Nast representative said at the time that his suspension was due to internal "concerns."
  • However, former and current Condé Nast employees previously told Business Insider that they believed Hunziker's social media posts, which were critical of the publisher, led to his suspension.
  • Though the video editor has returned, employees say the suspension reveals a push at Condé Nast to suppress voices of dissent at the company.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Bon Appétit video editor Matt Hunziker returned to work on August 10, according to an August 7 email sent to employees from Condé Nast's chief people officer Stan Duncan.

Hunziker, the editor for "It's Alive with Brad Leone," a top-watched series on Bon Appétit's YouTube channel, was suspended in late June. A Condé Nast representative said that his suspension was due to internal "concerns," which were not detailed.

Hunziker's coworkers pushed back on that explanation, telling Business Insider in June that they believed the suspension was due to Hunziker's social media posts, which were critical of Bon Appétit for its treatment of employees of color. Several more shared on social media that Hunziker was an "advocate" for people of color at the food magazine.

Though Hunziker is back at work, some employees at Bon Appétit and Condé Nast Entertainment, the publisher's video arm, told Business Insider they worry about the message his suspension sent. Several current staffers said leaders have said in at least one meeting that speaking out in support of Hunziker was not allowed.

As Business Insider previously reported, in a meeting on the morning of June 25, a Condé Nast Entertainment employee asked, in reference to Hunziker's suspension, what protections were in place for employees who voiced their opinions on company policies. Katzeff responded, "The issue of being able to speak openly and safely in meetings, in these forums, and working groups is of utmost importance to me."

However, a meeting later that day reportedly offered different guidance.

According to The Sporkful, the company hosted a mandatory all-staff meeting at 7 p.m. on June 25, which reportedly included Anna Wintour, Vogue editor-in-chief and creative director of Condé Nast. Sources who spoke to The Sporkful said meeting organizers called out by name those who supported Hunziker on social media, and told them to delete their posts.

"Matt was not placed on leave due to social media posts about diversity or anti-racism," a representative for Condé Nast said in a statement. "Accordingly, the company informed employees that speculation regarding his paid leave was inaccurate, unfair to Matt, and contrary to the company's desire to protect employee privacy and ensure a fair investigation."

Hunziker did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment. 

Bon Appétit's public firestorm started in June. Following allegations that surfaced on social media, former and current employees of the food magazine told Business Insider that the company compensated non-white staffers differently than their white peers, and that company leadership failed to include diverse perspectives in editorial and video content.

A representative from Condé Nast said in August that an internal pay equity study revealed that compensation was fair and not based on race.

Editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport stepped down on June 8 after food journalist Tammie Teclemariam recirculated an old Instagram photo of Rapoport and his wife in brownface. Head of programming Matt Duckor stepped down on June 10. Employees said Rapoport and other editors created an environment that was hostile and unwelcoming to people of color. 

In response to the reporting and social media posts, Hunziker made a series comments on his Twitter and Instagram page critiquing his employer's response and supporting his colleagues.

 

"I sat in a meeting once where we were told that the brand wanted to increase diversity, but wanted to preserve 'the voice,'" Hunziker wrote in a thread on Twitter. "The inability of leadership to understand the incompatibility of those ideas is incredibly revealing."

 

Later that month, Hunziker was suspended. 

"There have been many concerns raised about Matt that the company is obligated to investigate and he has been suspended until we reach a resolution," a Condé Nast representative said in a statement shared with Business Insider on June 25.

However, employees of the publishing giant pushed back, some publicly.

"The whole framing of this situation (both in the article and Hunzi's actual suspension) clearly signals the company's ethos," Jesse Sparks, an editorial assistant at Bon Appétit until August 7, wrote on Twitter following the news of Hunziker's suspension.

Sohla El-Waylly, who announced last week that she would not appear in future videos for the magazine, told Business Insider that Hunziker's suspension was part of why she stepped away from video content. For El-Waylly, Hunziker's suspension contrasted with the treatment of employees like Oren Katzeff. The Condé Nast Entertainment president remained at the company after offensive tweets about women and people of color surfaced from the executive's past. 

"It was clear to me that there are certain people who the rules don't apply to, and I don't want to work in a place like that," El-Waylly previously told Business Insider.

In July, the publisher announced that Agnes Chu, who is the senior vice president of content at Disney Plus, will take over as president of Condé Nast Entertainment in September. Katzeff will assume another, as-of-yet unannounced role at the company.

A Condé Nast spokesperson said that Bon Appétit videos will return in September with a mix of new and returning talent. The Test Kitchen channel, which has six million subscribers on YouTube, has not posted new videos since June 5 as on-camera talent negotiated over compensation.

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