Essence Executives Richelieu Dennis, Michelle Ebanks, Joy Profet & MoAna Luu Must Resign.

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We demand the immediate resignation of Richelieu Dennis, Owner & Chief Executive Officer of Essence Ventures (Essence Communications including Essence Magazine, Essence.com and Essence Festival), Michelle Ebanks, Essence Ventures board member and former Essence Communications CEO, Joy Collins Profet, Chief Operating Officer, and MoAna Luu, Chief Content Officer.

We are calling for AT&T, Chase Bank, Coca Cola, Ford, Procter & Gamble, Walmart, and Warner Media to immediately divest all active and future sponsorships and media buys at Essence Communications until the company is under new leadership.

Black women who makeup over 80% of Essence’s workforce are repeatedly suppressed with pay inequity, sexual harassment, workplace bullying, and intimidation. Scores of talented Black women have been either wrongfully laid off or forced to resign from the company in the past two years.

Richelieu Dennis’s wife Martha Dennis, is the parent company’s (Essence Ventures) head of Human Resources, a blatant conflict of interest. Martha is complicit in her husband’s abuse of power and intimidation tactics.

Leadership approved layoffs of Black female staff recently returned from maternity leave. Other Black female staff have been threatened with dismissal during maternity leave, and were not timely offered healthcare coverage in time for leave.

Dennis has a history of sleeping with women under his employ at Sundial (owner of Shea Moisture, acquired by Unilever in 2017). Black female staff at Essence have experienced sexual harassment by Dennis.

Dennis tried to force Essence employees and contractors to sign non-disclosure agreements that exclusively protects him and his family from liability or disparagement after a string of wrongful layoffs and other potentially libelous business activity. When staff raised questions about the NDA, the executive leadership team launched a series of intimidation tactics on its mostly Black female staff.

At a company town hall during later half of 2019, employees inquired with Michelle Ebanks, then CEO, about market and industry pay equity, Ebanks openly dismissed the ask and told employees they were welcomed to leave company.

Black female staffers experienced repeated miscarriages due to intense stress and anxiety  under leadership of Ebanks. Under both leadership of Ebanks and Joy Collins Profet, Chief Operating Officer, staff suffered from intense anxiety, depression, evidenced by signs of extreme weight gain or loss, workforce isolation and surrendered resignations. In 2019, a senior staffer who directly reports to Profet, went under a stress leave only to return to heightened and tactical workforce bullying by Profet.

MoAna Luu, Chief Content Officer, hired by Dennis due to a personal relationship, is also rampantly abusive to editorial and creative staff at Essence. After staff sustained nearly a year of MoAna’s workplace bullying and adverse impact on the business, a staffer anonymously emailed a complaint to Dennis and Ebanks. Instead of investigating MoAna’s performance, they initiated interrogation tactics on staff with support of IT leadership. The incident strengthened the toxicity of the company culture and led to the resignation of even more proven Black women.

Both present and former Black female staff at Essence have experienced extreme trauma and fear under the terrorizing management of Dennis, Ebanks, Profet and Luu. The current Black female staff at Essence are not emotionally safe nor are they fairly set up for professional and economic advancement at the company. 

The Essence Ventures board, and corporations who invest in Essence, must remove Dennis, Ebanks, Profet and Luu from management within the next 5 business days.