| October 1, 2020 | Essence magazine, the premier publication dedicated to the edification and upliftment of Black women, has been forced to furlough many staff members.
“Six months into an unprecedented and continuing global pandemic, COVID-19 has had a broader and longer-lasting impact than anyone expected – and Essence Communications, Inc. (“ECI”) has not been immune to it. Nonetheless, our commitment to successfully guiding this iconic brand through these immediate challenges and forward is unwavering,” the statement reads.
“After a thorough analysis of our business and its financial position and carefully exploring all options for continued viability, we have made the very difficult decision to implement temporary measures to account for the ongoing significant negative impact of the pandemic, including furloughs.”
Furthermore, the magazine’s precarious fiscal matters may have been exacerbated in June 2020 when an anonymous employee publicly accused the leadership of sexual harassment, bullying and other workplace turmoil. The scandal led to the June resignation of Essence Communications CEO Richelieu Dennis, who bought Essence from Time magazine in 2018 to make it completely Black-owned. Dennis was replaced by interim CEO Caroline Wanga.
Leaders at Essence have said the company will not pay employees beyond this week, but they doesn’t anticipate the employment moratorium to last more than six months.
The iconic magazine, which began in 1970, was able to stave off furloughs during the infancy of the pandemic earlier this year due “via significant personal investments from ownership along with limited PPP funds.” However, the “prolonged situation and unforeseeable business now require us to take additional action to ensure the long-term sustainability of ECI.”
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