Condé Nast Implements Temporary Pay Reductions, Braces for Additional Cuts

It's the latest media organization to do so amid COVID-19

conde nast hallway
Layoffs and pay cuts have hit Condé Nast. Condé Nast
Headshot of Sara Jerde

Executives at Condé Nast, the international media company that includes publications like Vanity Fair, Vogue, GQ and The New Yorker, will temporarily reduce pay and consider the number of layoffs it has to make in response to COVID-19’s impact on its business, CEO Roger Lynch told staffers in an email today.

“[I]t’s very likely our advertising clients, consumers and, therefore, our company will be operating under significant financial pressure for some time,” Lynch said in the email obtained by Adweek.

Condé Nast is the latest publisher to take drastic action to compensate for a decline in digital advertising revenue and the inability to hold in-person events after COVID-19 took hold across the world.

Publishers including Bustle Digital Group, G/O Media and Group Nine Media have reduced pay and implemented layoffs.

Employees making more than $100,000 will have their salaries temporarily reduced by between 10% and 20%, depending on the level of compensation, effective May 1 through the end of September.

Lynch will take a 50% reduction in his base salary; other executives will take a 20% base salary cut. “As a leadership team, we’ve continued to work to do everything possible to protect jobs, limit impact to lower wage earners, and continue to provide benefits to individuals and their families through this time,” Lynch said.

In addition to the temporary pay cuts, executives will also implement a reduced work schedule, cutting some staffers to three- and four-day workweeks, “in particular where government programs and stimulus packages can help supplement employees’ earnings,” he said.

Lynch said that while it is a “last option,” there will be some layoffs, with announcements expected to be made through the end of May. “Role eliminations are never something we take lightly, and we’ll continue to work to limit this as much as possible,” he said. It’s not clear which Condé Nast brands, which also include Teen Vogue, Wired, Bon Appétit and Architectural Digest, would be most affected.

Already, the publisher has limited hiring and closed roles that had been available, as well as deferred some company-wide projects.

Lynch was brought on to the Advance Publications-owned company in April 2019 to help it turn a profit, after the parent company combined Condé Nast and its international counterpart into one entity.

Contrary to previous reports, the company is not currently seeking or planning to ask for bailout funds from the U.S., European or U.K. governments, according to chief communications officer Joe Libonati.

“Our efforts to diversify our business model and grow consumer revenue are helping us weather this challenging time, and we must continue to focus and adapt our business in that direction,” Lynch wrote.

@SaraJerde Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.