A blog post titled, The Truth About Essence, went viral over the weekend as the anonymous women writers blogged about their painful experiences working at the magazine. In it, they requested the resignation of several key senior managers.
Today, one of those requests was honored. Richelieu Dennis has been replaced as CEO of Essence Magazine.
Dennis, the founder of Shea Moisture and Sundial Brands, bought the iconic magazine and brand from TIME in 2018. The acquisition made Essence Communications 100% Black-owned again. However, according to the blog post, that did not stop a pervasive culture of toxicity and harassment.
The Truth About Essence was written by a group of anonymous women who state that they are either current or past employees of the magazine. They wrote the post out of frustration, and as a demand for change. The scathing allegations reverberated throughout the Black media world, and Essence Communications quickly released a statement.
Essence Communications released a statement on Monday denouncing the allegations as baseless. However, on Tuesday, they released another statement that Dennis will be stepping down as CEO, and that they have committed to an independent review of their business practices.
“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 and practices and conduct comprehensive employee interviews.” The statement reads.
“It is of critical importance to us that there is no doubt or question about who we are, what we represent, and what we believe in.”
Caroline Wanga will be stepping in as interim CEO. Wanga was hired by Essence on June 2 to be the company’s chief growth officer. She was previously the chief diversity and inclusion officer and vice president of human resources at the Target Corporation.
Story credit to Biba Adams/The Grio.
Photo credit to The Grio.