Audrey Gelman Resigned as CEO of The Wing, But Employees Say It’s ‘Not Enough’

the wing womens co working space

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After criticisms from former employees of women’s co-working space the Wing resurfaced online this week, the company’s cofounder Audrey Gelman announced that she is stepping down.

In an email to Wing staffers obtained by tech journalist Kara Swisher, Gelman said it was “the right thing for the business” and “the best way to bring The Wing along into a long overdue era of change.”

Gelman also emphasized the importance of her resignation in “this moment,” which she said “calls for an expanded view of what The Wing will be.” Her resignation comes as companies all over the country re-examine their roles in the fight for racial justice.

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The Wing confirmed Gelman’s departure to several publications, saying in the interim that her spot will be filled by an “office of the CEO,” staffed by SVP of marketing and communications Celestine Maddy, cofounder and chief operating officer Lauren Kassan, and senior vice president for operations Ashley Peterson.

Vice editor Maxwell Strachan posted the company’s statement to Twitter, which reads: “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.”

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In early March, the Wing closed its spaces and suspended membership dues as COVID-19 continued to spread in the U.S. The company lost 95 percent of its revenues, and laid off or furloughed most of its 475 staffers. In April, Gelman and Kassan co-authored a post on Medium explaining that they, “explored many different options to keep our team together and stay solvent. We have foregone our own salaries, reduced others and sought relief from the federal government. But even in the best-case scenario, without taking these extreme measures.”

“The Wing would have to close down this year,” they wrote. “We’ll be back. And we’ll be better. And while our hearts are broken, we are not giving up.”

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Shortly after Gelman announced her resignation Thursday morning, employees began sharing an identical message to social media expressing further frustrations about the company.

Rae Farine, who is a site reliability engineer for the Wing according to LinkedIn, posted the statement to Twitter, which reads: “Simply put, The Wing doesn’t practice the intersectional feminism that it preaches to the rest of the world.”

According to the message, employees are also staging a “digital walkout [today] in solidarity with the people without whom The Wing would not exist—particularly our Black and brown coworkers.”

The walkout organizers released an additional statement to VICE saying they have created a petition to demand specific steps to improve the situation at the company: “We are frustrated and saddened by the incompetence and lack of accountability demonstrated time and time again by The Wing’s leadership. Last year, our co-founders admitted that their own biases, blind spots, willful ignorance, and conscious decision to prioritize growth led to a dysfunctional company structure and have had a lasting impact on the performance of our business… Without transparency and clear growth paths for employees, these leadership decisions have disproportionately failed and continue to fail people of color at The Wing.”

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