- Audrey Gelman, the founder and CEO of The Wing, is stepping down from her position at the company.
- Gelman reportedly sent an email to Wing staff on Thursday saying she decided to step down “to bring The Wing along into a long overdue era of change.”
- The Wing, a women’s social club heralded by members as a place to gather and build professional networks, was criticised earlier this year by former employees, some of whom described it as elitist and uncomfortable for workers of colour.
- After Gelman announced her resignation, some employees said that it was “not enough” and that they would stage a digital walkout in solidarity with Black and brown employees.
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Audrey Gelman, the cofounder and CEO of The Wing, will step down from her position at the women’s social club this month.
Gelman’s resignation announcement on Thursday came as Wing employees staged a digital walkout in solidarity with Black and brown workers, criticising The Wing for failing to “practice the intersectional feminism that it preaches.”
A Wing representative confirmed Gelman’s resignation to Business Insider and said she would be replaced by an “office of the CEO” held by three women: Lauren Kassan, Celestine Maddy, and Ashley Peterson.
“The past three months have brought change to our society, our culture, our business and our team in ways no one could have imagined,” the representative said. “The Wing remains a vital resource for thousands of women navigating their path to success. But the moment calls for a rethinking of how we meet their needs moving forward and for new leadership that can guide The Wing into the future.”
Gelman said in an email published by the tech journalist Kara Swisher that her stepping down was “a crucial step to creating a sustainable solution for the business.”
“This decision is the right thing for the business, and the best way to bring The Wing along into a long overdue era of change,” Gelman wrote.
After Gelman announced her resignation, some current staffers voiced dissatisfaction with the company and said they would stage a digital walkout in support of Black and brown workers.
“Audrey Gelman’s resignation is not enough,” Alex Covington, The Wing’s brand director, said in a tweet, adding that she and her colleagues had created a list of demands to correct “egregious” problems at the company.
— Alex Covington (@AlexNoelleCov) June 11, 2020
Wing employees who organised the digital walkout on Thursday said in a statement to Business Insider that they were protesting “leadership decisions” that “have disproportionately failed and continue to fail people of colour at The Wing.” They said The Wing’s leadership had internally acknowledged a “dysfunctional company structure” but accused Gelman and other executives of failing to take action to address it.
“We are frustrated and saddened by the incompetence and lack of accountability demonstrated time and time again by The Wing’s leadership,” the employees said. “The public perception of The Wing is at an all-time low – and rightfully so.”
The employees said they brought specific demands to The Wing’s leadership in a petition signed by most of the company’s current staff members but declined to share the petition publicly.
Similar concerns from Wing employees have boiled over in the past – a former employee told The New York Times Magazine in March that Wing staffers “don’t get paid enough for our immense physical, intellectual and emotional labour.”
A Wing representative did not immediately comment on the walkout.
The Wing has nabbed major investments in recent years from backers including WeWork, Sequoia, and Airbnb. By the start of 2019, it had raised over $US117.5 million in venture capital,according to Crunchbase. But more recently, The Wing has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic – Gelman told staff in April that revenue had dropped by 95%, Motherboard reported.
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