Female-oriented coworking company The Wing has come under scrutiny since its founding due to issues involving feminism, race relations and working conditions, which has offered key lessons for entrepreneurs about the importance of workplace culture.
“Rather than creating a healthy feedback loop and addressing with urgency the issues that members and employees identified, we prioritized business growth over cultural growth,” wrote Audrey Gelman, founder of The Wing, in an article for Fast Company.
According to a 2020 Workplace Culture Report from workplace training platform Emtrain, strong norms and established practices are essential to creating a healthy workplace culture.
Additionally, as humans are hardwired to label people as “us” or “them,” The Wing is the “them,” or out-group, of the tech startup world. This leaves them on the receiving end of criticism and judgment.
A New York Times article found that, out of the 600 founders who received $100 million or more in funding during 2017 and 2018, Gelman was one of the few who has raised that amount, representing less than 1% of total founders.
Still, there were no op-eds upon op-eds written about the cultural issues of the other 599 founders even though they undoubtedly existed. Instead, critics have focused on The Wing.
Although it is difficult to change how much money female founders receive in funding, it is at least possible to acknowledge how the startup world is more challenging for those in an out-group.