It’s a new day and a big moment for black female leadership as Caroline A. Wanga is named the new interim CEO of Essence.
The decision comes on the heels of Essence magazine owner, Richelieu Dennis, choosing to resign from his position amid claims that he, as well as other company leaders, were responsible for cultivating a toxic work environment for black women working at Essence.
The magazine was accused by #BlackFemaleAnonymous who shared the following: Essence historically used to be a haven for Black female media professionals who couldn’t get roles at major publishers like Hearst and Condé Nast due to racial bias, the magazine’s very first cover in May 1970 boldly presented a Black woman in a natural afro with a tantalizing cover line asking Black men, do you love me?
Today, the company’s predominately Black female workforce is asking Essence itself, do you love us like we love you? For past and present Black female talent once lucky enough to walk its prestigious halls, Essence is the most deceptive Black media company in America.
Why? Essence aggressively monetizes #BlackGirlMagic but the company does not internally practice #BlackGirlMagic.
The company’s longstanding pattern of gross mistreatment and abuse of its Black female employees is the biggest open secret in the media business.
New owner and CEO Richelieu Dennis, Michelle Ebanks, Joy Collins Profet and Moana Luu collaboratively immortalize an extremely unhealthy work culture.
Scores of talented Black women have been either wrongfully laid off or forced to resign from the company in the past two years.
Essence’s C-suite leadership team strategically tells the market it “serves Black women deeply” under the safe seal of 100% Black ownership, but for the Black women who makeup over 80% of the company’s workforce, they are systematically suppressed by pay inequity, sexual harassment, corporate bullying, intimidation, colorism, and classism.
In a statement released by Essence Communications, the company firmly denies all allegations of mistreatment and doubles down on its mission to honor and protect black women:
“Essence reiterates its commitment to Black women, our communities, and our employees. The commitment has been continually evidenced not just by our words, but by our actions fighting for, celebrating and investing in our community and each other over decades. ” The company said. “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.”
Essence also released a statement noting that the company is in transition admitting that it is never an easy or seamless process extracting a company from a conglomerate with shared services and establishing it as an independent with stand-alone functions. As part of the execution of [a] strategic growth plan, with the entire team, [they] will continue to create a culture that is there own, and that reflects the values and vision for a Black-owned business.
This includes the June 2 announcement of the hiring of Caroline A. Wanga, a C-level executive who has a proven track record of building healthy teams and workplace cultures at a Fortune 50 company, as our new Chief Growth Officer.
She is charged with HR/reshaping organizational culture, assessing and establishing operational strategies, new growth opportunities, and market strategy.
Caroline A. Wanga’s inclusion in the company is a massive first step toward renewing and solidifying their commitment.
As the former Vice President of Human Resources and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for Target Corporations, Wanga is an expert in cultivating a work environment that champions accountability, inclusive experiences, and innovation in the workplace.
She also has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from HBCU Texas College and has been named a Top Executive in Corporate Diversity by Black Enterprise, as well as Savoy’s Most Powerful Women in Corporate America.
While the search for a permanent CEO has been delayed due to COVID-19, Wanga will be temporarily handling company affairs—including until further notice.