Closing The Gap

Women-only coworking space The Wing is under investigation for excluding men

After work at The Wing's Soho, New York, co-working space, a bar opens and speakers give talks. Above, actress Jennifer Lawrence speaks with The Wing co-founder Audrey Gelman.
Photo courtesy of Getty
After work at The Wing's Soho, New York, co-working space, a bar opens and speakers give talks. Above, actress Jennifer Lawrence speaks with The Wing co-founder Audrey Gelman.

The Wing, a women-only coworking space and social club, is under investigation by the New York City Commission on Human Rights for possible gender discrimination due to its no-men-allowed rules.

As reported by Jezebel, on Monday the Commission opened what they called a "commission-initiated investigation" into how The Wing operates and if it is in compliance with city laws. Karen Dunn of Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, who is representing the coworking space, tells Jezebel that she rejects the use of the term "investigation" and that The Wing and the Commission have simply agreed to have a sit-down conversation about the matter.

The Wing, which has three locations in New York and one in Washington, D.C., opened its first space in 2016. Within two years, the company has attracted more than 1,500 members and raised $32 million in funding.

Co-founder Audrey Gelman tells Business Insider that she is surprised by the so-called investigation by the Commission, and notes that the company has the support of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"Quite surprisingly, the Commission reached out to us on the first day of Women's History Month. That call has resulted in nothing more than an agreement to meet and have a conversation — in fact, we have been assured that the de Blasio Administration fully supports the mission of The Wing and will work with us to see it prosper."

In a statement to the New York Daily News, de Blasio's spokesperson Eric Phillips said, "The mayor is fully supportive of The Wing's mission, and we are confident the human rights commission and The Wing can work together to ensure the law is being followed so that The Wing can continue to focus on its important work."

In the wake of the #MeToo movement and ongoing conversations around hostile work environments, supporters of The Wing have taken to social media to voice their opposition to the investigation.

The Commission responded to the numerous tweets by emphasizing its right to inquire into any business that may be showing gender discrimination.

In a message to its members on Wednesday, The Wing addressed the upcoming conversation and explained why it's important to protect such spaces that are safe and welcoming to women.

"Because of the history of women in this country — and even more so in this time we live in — we believe it is important to protect and foster the work of The Wing and similar places that give women a positive and safe space to thrive."

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