Amid backlash, The Wing founder Audrey Gelman resigns

Employees staged digital walkout over treatment of employees of color

Audrey Gelman at the Wing's D.C. outpost (Getty)
Audrey Gelman at the Wing's D.C. outpost (Getty)

The Wing founder Audrey Gelman is stepping down as CEO of the women’s co-working firm as the company faces backlash over its “systemic” mistreatment of employees of color.

In an email to employees, Gelman said her decision to step down was “the right thing for the business” and the best way to bring the Wing “into a long overdue era of change.” Tech journalist Kara Swisher and Vice were first to report the news Thursday.

Hours later, employees staged a digital walkout to protest the Wing’s “dysfunctional company structure.”

But on Twitter, Alex Covington, the Wing’s brand director, said Gelman’s resignation is “not enough” to fix the firm’s “egregious” problems.

On Thursday, employees staged a digital walkout to protest a “dysfunctional company structure” and leadership decisions that “fail people of color.”

“Simply put, The Wing doesn’t practice the intersectional feminism that it preaches to the rest of the world,” they said. Those involved in the walkout posted nearly-identical statements on Twitter, saying they stood “in solidarity with the people without whom The Wing would not exist — particularly our Black and brown coworkers.”

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In March, the New York Times reported on fissures at a company had billed itself as a “women’s utopia.” But employees of the Wing told the publication that they weren’t paid enough for “immense physical, intellectual and emotional labor.”

Founded in 2016, the Wing has raised $117.5 million. Valued at $365 million in 2018, its valuation plunged to around $200 million after WeWork divested its stake following its botched IPO. The company’s revenue dropped 95 percent during the pandemic.

Gelman will be replaced by a three-person “office of the CEO,” held by Lauren Kassan, Celestine Maddy and Ashley Peterson.

[Vice] — E.B. Solomont

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