Two legal firms conducted an investigation when Black Female Anonymous published an essay including charges that Richelieu Dennis, the owner of Essence, and Essence engaged in behavior that led to a hazardous workplace. The investigation found no evidence to support the claims.
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According to the New York Times, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius looked into workplace issues, including charges of sexual harassment made against Mr. Richelieu Dennis in an anonymous online post. owner and head of Essence Ventures, the company that controls Essence Communications and the magazine.
The anonymous statement cited bullying and sexual harassment as instances of an “abusive work culture”.
What distinguishes sexual assault from sexual harassment? What about improper sexual behavior?
Sexual harassment, which is generally considered a civil infraction but isn’t necessarily, is when unwanted sexual conduct creates a hostile environment. Sexual assault is a crime that involves non-consensual sexual touch or penetration. The word “sexual misconduct” is used broadly to refer to a range of sexual actions, and the definition might vary based on the situation and the applicable rules, including harassment.
However, Essence magazine failed to deliver for Black America. The culture as a whole destabilizes when Black media companies experience insecurity. For their cultural identity, cultural memory, sense of purpose, and economic advancement, Black women and Black men have historically turned to Black-owned media outlets.
The CEO of Essence, Richelieu Dennis, Resigned As a Result of a Critical Opinion Piece – Was the Piece True?
Richelieu Dennis, according to the Women’s Medium piece, has a “surface-level commitment to Black women” but is actually “driven by greed and a debaucherous sexual appetite.”
They said that “he has a habit of having affairs with Sundial employees. At events hosted by private companies, he shamelessly harasses ladies who don’t seem to be giving their consent.
Initially, the firm denied the allegations, calling them “unfounded endeavors to undermine our brand and destroy personal character.”
However, they released a press statement in the evening appointing Caroline Wanga as their new interim CEO as part of a number of steps to “ensure that Essence is the haven of refuge that we all expect.”
The move came after an urgent discussion with staff members earlier in the day, during which Dennis expressed disappointment that no one had checked in with him to see how he was doing.
It was a contentious discussion. According to a source, the original remark incensed staff members. They became much furious at him when he questioned why nobody had visited him.
According to insiders, Richelieu Dennis’ position as CEO was always intended to be transitory. After Michelle Ebanks resigned and went to the board of Essence Ventures, where Richelieu Dennis would continue to serve as chair, he took over in March.
She was also asked to quit the business, along with chief operating officer Joy Collins Profet and chief content officer Moana Luu, according to the unnamed collective.
Essence names a new CEO in the wake of accusations that the company’s founder Richelieu Dennis encouraged a poisonous work environment
An opinion piece titled “The Truth About Essence” by “Black Female Anonymous” was published…In it, it was detailed how Black employees are alleged “systematically suppressed by pay inequity, sexual harassment, corporate bullying, intimidation, colorism, and classism.”
The authors demanded that Richelieu Dennis and other executives step down, called for an advertising boycott, and painted a damning picture of Richelieu Dennis, alleging that “his surface-level commitment to Black women is driven by greed and a debaucherous sexual appetite,” that he has sexually harassed multiple women, and that he has used NDAs to shield his family from liability or discredit.
The Essence team denied the accusations, calling them “mischaracterizations” and “unfounded attempts to discredit our brand and destroy personal character.” in a statement.
The company said that there had been no allegations of sexual misconduct or harassment and that any new claims made to HR would be looked into.
Following the resignation of previous CEO Michelle Ebanks in March, the business said that Richelieu Dennis would be in charge of day-to-day operations until a replacement was sought.
The business announced that Caroline Wanga had been named the interim CEO and that a separate inquiry into workplace culture had been started.
About Black Female Anonymous
Black Female Anonymous offer ourselves anonymously because of concern for reprisals, intimidation, and defamation of our media professions. We demand the immediate resignation of Richelieu Dennis, owner, and CEO of Essence Ventures, Michelle Ebanks, a board member of Essence Ventures and a former CEO of Essence Communications, Joy Collins Profet, COO of Essence Ventures, and Moana Luu, COO of Essence Communications. We demand that until Essence Ventures is run by new management, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Chase Bank, Ford, Mcdonald’s, Procter & Gamble, Walmart, and Warner Media end all current and upcoming sponsors and media buys at the firm.
There is no intersectionality on race and gender in the growing movement to make corporate America a more equal place. Racial prejudice and discrimination in America’s white-owned media companies were made public by the accounts of a large group of courageous Black women on Twitter and Instagram. Resignations followed by vows from the existing business leaders to improve came as a result of this.
Michelle Ebanks, Joy Collins Profet, Moana Luu, and Richelieu Dennis, the company’s new CEO, work together to preserve a seriously toxic workplace environment. Over the past two years, a large number of bright Black women have either been wrongly fired or compelled to leave the organization. Despite the fact that Black women make up over 80% of the workforce at Essence, the C-suite leadership team strategically claims that the company “serves Black women deeply” under the safe banner of 100% Black ownership. However, Black women are systematically suppressed by pay inequality, sexual harassment, workplace bullying, persuasion colorism, and classism, which together account for over 80% of the staff at the business.
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About Richelieu Dennis
Richelieu Dennis was born and raised in the country of Liberia in West Africa. Dennis alleged that living in Liberia was difficult. There were several killings, student protests, turmoil, and wrongful detentions. He was lucky enough to be awarded a scholarship to study in the United States due to the continuing civil hostilities in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Even after graduation, he kept living there.
Richelieu Dennis describes himself as an African-born businessman, investor, and social commerce pioneer. He explains his passion for entrepreneurship and creative thinking as being motivated by a desire to help underserved areas by advancing the idea that economic advancement is a human right.
Richelieu Dennis asserts that he started Sundial Products in 1991 after graduating from Babson College and being unable to go back to his native Liberia due to civil conflict. Sundial Brands is the producer of well-known beauty and personal care products SheaMoisture and Nubian Heritage. He was joined by Nyema Tubman, his best friend, and his mother, Mary Dennis. Richelieu Dennis, who held those positions until December 2019, asserts that he set the company’s Community Commerce purpose-driven business model and success as the leading natural hair and beauty provider for Black women and the larger diverse and natural communities he known as the New General Market.
According to Richelieu Dennis, Essence Ventures is an independent Black-owned consumer technology firm that aims to bring together knowledge, community, and business to create an ecosystem that meets the cultural and lifestyle demands of people of color. Essence Ventures was founded in 2017. The company said in January 2018 that it had purchased Essence Communications Inc. from Time Inc.
Essence Ventures’ Response to the Allegations
In response to allegations of sexual harassment made against Mr. Dennis, owner and chairman of Essence Ventures, the company that owns the magazine and Essence Communications, in an anonymous post, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius reportedly looked into workplace issues.
Bullying and sexual harassment were frequent occurrences in the “abusive work culture” described in the anonymous article that was released.
About Sundial Brands
A Fair for Life-accredited firm, Sundial is a B Corp. It is a manufacturer of natural and organic SheaMoisture, SheaMoisture Men, Emerge, Nubian Heritage, and nyakioTM goods including Sundial Brands, a Unilever subsidiary.
Sofi, the grandmother of Richelieu Dennis, is credited with creating SheaMoisture. SheaMoisture was created in Sierra Leone by Sofi, who is said to have created handcrafted shea butter soaps and salves to support her family after becoming a young widow. Richelieu Dennis learned Sofi’s healing methods from her since she was well-known for them in the countryside.
Harlem, New York, is the birthplace of Nubian Heritage. After graduating from college, Richelieu and his best buddy Nyema Tubman started their business as street vendors in Harlem, selling their culturally genuine goods. They incorporate several therapeutic philosophies into contemporary health solutions, inspired by the history of prehistoric Nubia, the earliest melting pot of civilizations.
The development of nyakioTM skincare was inspired by Nyakio Kamoche Grieco’s family of healers, farmers, and teachers. First-generation Kenyan-American Nyakio built her collection on family recipes and beauty customs from 13 other nations, with each formula conjuring a luxurious, cross-cultural experience.
Sundial Brands asserts that by introducing MCJW hair care, they are elaborating on the life and legacy of the pioneering Madam C.J. Walker, America’s first female self-made billionaire, and an innovative entrepreneur.
Through our mission-driven Community Commerce business model, Sundial Brands responsibly gets shea butter from 15 women’s cooperatives in Northern Ghana. We don’t merely buy women’s commodities; we also help them establish profitable businesses. These hardworking women receive an ethical salary premium and become partners with us rather than just vendors. They gain more access to education, improved health, and financial independence as their income levels grow.
Learning from the Richelieu Dennis Controversy: How to Handle An Abusive Workplace Environment
Dealing with an abusive corporate culture may be difficult and unpleasant. You can take the following actions to solve the problem:
1. Recognize the warning signals of abuse: Abuse may take many different forms. It may take the form of emotional abuse (such as humiliation, and belittling), physical abuse (such as striking, and shoving), verbal abuse (such as threats, and insults), or sexual abuse (such as unwanted contact, and sexual remarks).
2. Keep a record of all instances of abuse, including the date, time, and specifics of what transpired. This might be helpful if you need to notify your company, HR department, or a legal body about the abuse.
3. Speak up: If it’s safe to do so, confront the individual assaulting you and let them know that their actions are unacceptable. Describe how their actions are impacting you in a plain and unambiguous manner.
4. Report the abuse: If the abuse continues, report it to your employer or HR department. If they are not willing to help, you can report the abuse to a legal authority or file a complaint with a government agency such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
5. Take care of yourself: Remember that you do not deserve to be abused, and it is not your fault. Take care of yourself and seek support from friends, family, or a therapist
Therefore, Always put your safety and well-being first in situations of abuse, never forget that.