Number of locations
|Services||Shared workspaces, events, and related services for women freelancers and entrepreneurs|
The Wing is a women-focused, co-working space collective and club with offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston. It was founded by Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan in 2016. As of June 2019, the club has about 8,000 members. As of January 2019, The Wing accepts members regardless of gender identity, after their initial goal of only accepting women.
The initial idea for The Wing stemmed from Audrey Gelman's desire for a space to change and relax between business meetings as she lived in Brooklyn, but worked in SoHo and Washington, D.C. The first title for this not-yet-created space was Refresh. When Gelman and Lauren Kassan began working together, they decided "The Wing" was a more fitting name, since it would represent a "wing" of the users' home away from their actual home. When developing this idea, the two decided to focus on creating a space where women can feel safe and supported.
In October of 2016, Gelman and Kassan began The Wing's foundation in New York City's Flatiron District, on the Ladies' Mile Historic District. The company raised $2.4 million from majority women seed investors including SoulCycle's Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler and Birchbox's Hayley Barna. The Wing closed its Series A funding round led by early-stage venture firm New Enterprise Associates in April 2017. The company raised $8 million from investors including Kleiner Perkins and BBG Ventures. They subsequently opened another branch in a loft in SoHo. In November 2017, The Wing completed a Series B round led by WeWork. The company raised an additional $32 million bringing their total investment to $42 million.
In 2018, The Wing opened new spaces in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn in January, in Washington, D.C. in April, and in San Francisco in October. The Washington, D.C., facility includes a booth dedicated to Anita Hill. The San Francisco space has a conference room dedicated to Christine Blasey Ford. At the end of 2018, The Wing announced it would offer on-site childcare services, The Little Wing, as part of the expansion of it's SoHo location. The Commission's investigation ended after the adoption of a formal policy allowing membership to people of any identity.
In December 2018, the company closed a $75-million Series C led by Sequoia Capital, including investors Upfront Ventures, Airbnb, and others. Among the investors were leaders of the Time's Up movement including Valerie Jarrett, Robbie Kaplan, Katie McGrath, Hilary Rosen, and Kerry Washington. The Wing has raised a total of $117.5 million in funding since its founding.
In April 2019, The Wing opened a seventh location on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, California. The West Hollywood location became the second location with an area for children. The location also has a sound-proof screening room and film-themed phone booths names after Princess Leia from Star Wars, C.J. Cregg of The West Wing, Lydia Deetz from Beetlejuice. The Wing's eighth location opened in June 2019 in the Back Bay area of Boston, Massachusetts.
Gender discrimination controversy
On March 1, 2018, the New York City Commission on Human Rights started a "commission-initiated" investigation into how The Wing membership system operates. At that time, The Wing did not allow men even as guests of members (unlike two other New York City women's clubs noted by the New York Times - Colony and Cosmopolitan), though it did hire some men such as plumbers and electricians.
In June of 2018, James E. Pietrangelo says a Wing employee told him his application would be automatically denied because he was a man. Pietrangelo filed a lawsuit in August 2018, which claimed the Wing's policy violated the District of Columbia's Human Right Act. The Wing responded that prior to August 30, 2018, it had an unwritten policy of only accepting women (including transgender women) and gender non-binary people. The company adopted a formal written policy that took effect in September of that year which accepts members regardless of gender identity. The company says it only accepts about 8% of applicants - those who it judges to be committed to its mission - and that only 12 out of about 26,000 applicants were men.
Membership costs can range between $215 per month for access to a single location to $250 for full access. In May 2018, The Wing announced it would begin offering scholarships to cover membership fees for a selected few applicants. The scholarships will be "aimed at individuals who are currently underrepresented in their member pool and who are working to advance the position of women and girls in society — specifically, those in the fields of teaching, nonprofit, social services, and advocacy." The company offered free two-year memberships including professional mentorship at its various locations in 2018.
The company employs about 300 people at its various locations. In August 2018, The Wing announced that it would convert the majority of its hourly workers to full-time employees with benefits. This included giving their remaining part-time employees medical benefits, stock options, and increasing their wages to at least $16.50 per hour.
In November 2017, The Wing launched a bi-annual magazine named No Man's Land. The inaugural edition of the magazine featured interviews with musician Remy Ma, publisher Tavi Gevinson, and a cover story featuring actress Hari Nef. The magazine's second issue featured comedian Jessica Williams on the cover. No Man's Land was also the name of The Wing's podcast hosted by Alexis Coe. The podcast's six-episode first season featured what they described as "women who were too bad for your textbooks." Episodes have focused on Stephanie St. Clair, a leader of a Harlem-based criminal syndicate, Ana Mendieta, a Cuban-American artist, and Ida B. Wells, a journalist and early leader in the Civil Rights Movement.
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- Katherine Rosman (2018-03-28). "Is Women-Only Club the Wing Discriminating in a Bad Way?".
- J.K. Trotte (2019-01-07). "Women's club The Wing quietly dropped its practice of banning men after a man filed a $12 million gender discrimination lawsuit".
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- Mohan, Pavithra (2018-08-14). "The Wing will now give hourly workers benefits and higher wages". Fast Company. Retrieved 2019-03-15.
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