Essence Appoints New CEO After Owner, Other Execs Accused Of Not Practicing What They Preach In Anonymous Essay
The magazine initially refuted the claims before confirming the resignation, calling the allegations a gross misrepresentation of the truth.
July 01, 2020 at 8:27 pm
Essence magazine has appointed Caroline Wanga as its new CEO two days after an essay stating leadership of the company has allowed abuse of power against Black female employees was published, reports The Grio.
The article, published on Medium by the collective Black Female Anonymous, called for the resignation of owner Richelieu Dennis, the founder of Essence Ventures, as well as the departure of other C-suite executives within five business days.
Black Female Anonymous said the magazine is “the most deceptive Black media company in America” because of its monetization of Black Girl Magic and lack of application of the concept in the workplace.
“The once exalted media brand dedicated to Black women has been hijacked by cultural and corporate greed and an unhinged abuse of power,” the article stated. “The company’s longstanding pattern of gross mistreatment and abuse of its Black female employees is the biggest open secret in the media business.”
The collective said Black female employees are affected by pay inequity, sexual harassment, corporate bullying, classism, colorism and intimidation. The collective said Dennis, who acquired Essence in 2018 from Time Inc., has a “surface-level commitment to Black women" and is “driven by greed and a debaucherous sexual appetite.”
The group also called for companies, including Coca Cola, Walmart and Ford, to halt sponsorships until the magazine is under new leadership. They also highlighted a conflict of interest, as Dennis' wife, Martha, is the company’s head of human resources.
On Monday, Essence released a statement, saying Black Female Anonymous’ accusations are a gross misrepresentation of the truth.
“The allegations and mischaracterizations throughout – whether of pay inequity, intimidation, and otherwise – are unfounded attempts to discredit our brand and assassinate personal character,” the publication said.
On Tuesday, Essence released a second statement, confirming Dennis' resignation, whose purchase of the publication made Essence 100% Black-owned. The announcement also stated that Wanga, who was recently hired as chief growth officer, will be serving as interim CEO. An external review of business practices will also be conducted.