When the Wing launched in 2016, it was pitched as an alternative to the bro-y coworking scene, offering not only a women-focused space, but additional programming and services designed to help women thrive. That progressive veneer appears to have peeled away in recent days, with the ouster of CEO and cofounder Audrey Gelman and a “digital walkout” protest by staff, both stemming from concerns about the company’s culture and treatment of non-white workers.
Gelman announced that she will be resigning effective later in June. “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.
“Simply put, the Wing doesn’t practice the intersectional feminism that it preaches to the rest of the world,” the company’s brand director, Alex Covington, tweeted on Thursday morning.
She was among the staffers to simultaneously share a statement on social media condemning corporate behavior. The statement claims to represent 67 of the Wing’s 72 full-time staffers. And, for her, a single executive stepping down does little to resolve her concerns. “Audrey Gelman’s resignation is not enough,” Covington posted.
The statement released by protesting workers alludes to a “list of demands” issued by the staff to top leadership in order to address their concerns. That list has not been released to the press, though in a March New York Times piece investigating the inner workings of the company, one former employee complained that workers “don’t get paid enough for our immense physical, intellectual, and emotional labor.”
The Wing had already been struggling financially, even before pandemic hit, triggering the indefinite closure of its 15 physical spaces—including its L.A. outpost in West Hollywood—and cancelation of in-person programming. In 2018, the company had a valuation estimated at $365 million, but that value plunged to just $200 million amidst the messy IPO of WeWork, one of the Wing’s major investors. By the time WeWork ultimately spun its share of the Wing off entirely, handing it over to a group of corporate investors including the Hollywood talent agency CAA, the implied valuation had dropped again, to $165 million.