Despite having been a watchdog over the years regarding reports on the spending power of African Americans, Nielsen Holdings has been slapped with a lawsuit by one of its top Black executives.
Cheryl Grace, Nielsen’s senior vice president of U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement, filed the lawsuit Monday in an Illinois federal court, alleging discrimination against the 97-year-old global ratings firm, according to a press release announcing the suit.
Grace, who has been with Nielsen for 16 years and is one of its few executives of color, said internal conversations and written correspondences about race and career advancement with several of the company’s top executives — including its CEO — have led to her being marginalized, and subjected to a hostile work environment.
“African Americans are calling out systemic racism,” she said in the press release.
Her lawsuit comes on the eve of Nielsen announcing the name of its spin-off consumer market research unit and the significance of multicultural shoppers and viewers regarding how the company can confidently and successfully sell representative insights to its roster of multibillion-dollar clients which includes manufacturers, retailers, broadcasters and advertisers.
While leaders of several prominent nonprofits have expressed their disappointment about the turn of events at Nielsen, they have pointed out the need for leadership in diversity, equity and inclusion for getting its internal house in order.
“Cheryl Grace is a very visible and highly respected Black woman, most widely known in nonprofit and business circles across the nation as the face of Nielsen,” said attorney Janice Mathis, executive director of the Washington-based National Council of Negro Women. “But beyond being a corporate spokesperson she has become a trusted voice in the African American Community. We need Nielsen to understand that the climate of trust this Black woman has created for their brand is in jeopardy.”