Did Nykaa CXO Make Rape Jokes, Bully Employees? Diet Sabya Shows Us the Ugly Side of the Beauty Start-up

Social Commentary

Did Nykaa CXO Make Rape Jokes, Bully Employees? Diet Sabya Shows Us the Ugly Side of the Beauty Start-up

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

Nykaa is one of India’s most successful start-up stories. The cosmetics and lifestyle e-commerce brand has been shipping products to customers across the country since its founding in 2012. But on Monday, the beauty-focussed brand was the subject of some ugly allegations. An Instagram account, Diet Sabya, known for its coverage of unethical practises like plagiarism in India’s fashion and entertainment industry, posted six stories that, if true, expose a toxic culture at Nykaa’s workplace.


View this post on Instagram


Fun times? @mynykaa @nykaabeauty @nykaafashion . This is what the behind-the-scenes at India’s biggest beauty e-commerce looks like. And, this is clearly not an one-off moment. Discuss! . . (As told to us by source) #dietsabya #issuedinpublicinterest #workplaceharassment

A post shared by Diet Sabya (@dietsabya) on

The six allegations posted by Diet Sabya all pertain to a certain, unnamed Chief Experience Officer (CXO) at Nykaa. The CXO is said to have made jokes trivialising rape, mocking employees’ mental health and economical status, body shaming, and bullying employees through name-calling and mockery. These four allegations are accompanied by anecdotes that allege the CXO told an employee who had just had a miscarriage that it was “God’s way of weaning out the weak”, and that she dismissed an acid attack survivor for a brand video since she had undergone surgery and wouldn’t “look like a victim”, among others.

The source for Diet Sabya’s allegations remains anonymous. However, in a report on Inc42, a Nykaa spokesperson denied the accusation, saying, “We have a zero-tolerance policy against any racism, body shaming or any comments that cause humiliation or offence. Nykaa has an internal redressal mechanism to address such cases. The comments are unsubstantiated.”

The comments on the original post by Diet Sabya, which number in the hundreds, contain many people sharing their own negative experiences with the brand, including claims that the company makes its women employees model for the website with no extra pay.

In a series of Instagram stories, Diet Sabya also posted horrific stories from employees who claimed they worked at Cosmopolitan and Little Black Book.

If the accusations being levelled at Nykaa and other organisations after Diet Sabya’s expose are in fact true, then it paints a picture of how prevalent toxic workplace culture is in the supposedly woke media and fashion industry.