Johnny Nunez/WireImageEssence Communications has announced that owner Richelieu Dennis has appointed Caroline Wanga as interim CEO of Essence magazine following a Medium post by anonymous staffers who accused the organization of fostering a toxic work environment.
In the essay by staffers, referred to as the #BlackFemaleAnonymous, the group demanded that top management resign, including Richelieu, whom they allege has “a history” of sexual misconduct and harassment.
“Out of an abundance of caution and an unwavering commitment to transparency, Essence is in the process of hiring law firms and other independent external experts to assess and review the company’s policies,” the statement read.
Essence addressed the claims against Dennis on Monday in a statement, calling the news “heartbreaking” and “the accusations… false.”
In addition to asking for the “immediate resignation” of Dennis, former Essence CEO Michelle Ebanks — who now serves as a board member, Chief Operating Officer Joy Collins Profet and Chief Content Officer Moana Luu, #BlackFemaleAnonymous also called on the magazine’s sponsors for support. They asked companies like AT&T, Coca Cola, Chase Bank, Ford, McDonalds, Procter & Gamble, Walmart and Warner Media “to immediately eliminate all active or future sponsorships and media buys at Essence Ventures until the company is under new leadership.”
By Candice Williams
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