Pandemic-related layoffs have come to women-only social club the Wing, as Motherboard reports today. In a Friday morning all-hands call peppered with the business’ preferred language of female empowerment and collective struggle, co-founders Lauren Kassan and Audrey Gellman told employees 95 percent of the company’s revenue had disappeared “overnight.” Nearly all of the millennial pink co-working space’s hourly employees will be laid off by the end of the day, along with half of its corporate staff.
“Please know that what we’ve created together is enduring and it is important,” Gelman told employees. “A community, grounded in friendship, laughter, [and] creation where women felt seen and felt held.”
Founded in 2016, the Wing has grown quickly to operate eight locations in the United States and the UK. It has raised over $100 million in funding to date. Investors include Airbnb, Google Ventures, and such influential figures as actress Kerry Washington and former Barack Obama aide Valerie Jarrett. The elite club, which has hosted Hillary Clinton and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, inspires a somewhat religious following among its members, some of whom refer to themselves as “sistren” or Winglets.” But, as the New York Times Magazine reported earlier this month, some employees have struggled with the chasm between the organization’s progressive branding and the experience of serving its members: Hourly employees reported making $16.50 an hour and struggling to cobble together enough shifts, fielding racist comments from guests, and feeling more like set pieces than participating members in the organization’s stated diversity goals.
In the call, Gelman, who bought Ditmas Park’s most expensive home last year, thanked employees for their dedication and proffered a message of hope: “Please know that what we’ve created here is enduring and important,” the founder said. According to the call, a recording of which Motherboard obtained, laid-off employees will get two months of severance, unused paid time off, and will keep their employer-sponsored healthcare through June. They will also retain a package of lifestyle and support offerings including personal coaching, a membership to One Medical, and mental health services. The package includes free Rosetta Stone classes to “develop English language skills” according to the call, which gives us an idea what kind of employees will be getting the axe throughout the day.
A previous version of this story included a less sensical version of Gelman’s comments about women feeling “seen” and “held”; a representative from the high-powered political consultancy firm SKDKnickerbocker swiftly got in touch with Jezebel to correct it.