Audrey Gelman, the former CEO of The Wing The person who resigned in June released a letter today that they sent last week to former staff members at The Wing. In it, Gelman apologized for failing to take action to combat the mistreatment of women of the same color at The Wing. She also acknowledged that her pursuit of success and scaling up quickly “came at the expense of a healthy and sustainable culture that matched our planned values and workplace practices that made our team feel valued and respected.”
Gelman said The Wing did not undermine the hotel industry’s historical oppression and racist roots. we disguised it as a kindler [sic], gentler version. “
Here are some other highlights from her letter:
- “The needs of the members came first, and those members were often white and wealthy enough to be able to afford the wing̵
- “White privileges and power excursions were rewarded with approval, as opposed to our doubling our projected values.”
- “When The Wing was found to be institutionally no different in the way it was proclaimed, it hurt more because the space we claimed was different, which is what the age-old patterns of women with color and especially black Women who were disappointed in white women reinforced and our limited feminist values. “
A public apology from Gelman and The Wing COO Lauren Kassan is just one of the requests made by members of Flew The Coup, a group of former staff members of The Wing. Another demand is that The Wing drop the nondisclosure agreements in their contracts.
“Together we saw racism and anti-LGBTQIA rhetoric from management, HQ staff and members,” the group wrote on Instagram in June. “We were exposed to physical and psychological violence in the various Wing locations and discrimination when we tried to move up within the company.”
The group continued: While The Wing was built on the idea of being a safe and inclusive place for women and non-binary people, “we have seen time and again the exact opposite of that mission.”
The Wing has raised $ 117.5 million from a number of investors including New Enterprise Associates, AlleyCorp, Sequoia Capital, Serena Williams, and Kerry Washington. At TechCrunch Disrupt, Washington told me a little about how she felt about the drama at The Wing.
“Well, you know, I’m not new to the scandal, so there is this,” Washington said. “I was and still am deeply inspired by the company’s original vision. And I think like many companies at this time, due to the various pandemics we are facing, be it our awareness of racial injustice or COVID, many people are in a moment of recalibration and self-reflection. So I think there is incredible room to improve the momentum. And as an investor, as a woman of color, it is important to me that transparency and accountability are increased. “
Over the past few months, Washington said its role as an investor had “really only assisted the leadership in this transition” and expressed a “deep desire” for these leaders for transparency and accountability.
The wing, like many other tech companies, fought during the COVID-19 pandemic. In April, the wing fired “the majority” of its workers, the company said. Then, in July, The Wing released another 56 people.
The organization of Flew The Coup also raises money to support people who have been released from The Wing. To date, the group has raised more than $ 15,000 for their scholarship program. The goal is to raise $ 100,000.
We reached out to The Wing and will update this story when we hear something.