She saw the need for an intimate club custom-made for people of color. It opens this year in Brooklyn.
Naj Austin had tried out many different co-working spaces and private clubs--and found them all the same. “At the end of the day, it’s people working--on couches that are different colors,” Austin says. She kept waiting for a space to open for people of color, like herself—and nothing did. She launched an Instagram page to gauge interest for what she dubbed Ethel’s Club in January of this year and within months, she had a 4,000-person waitlist for membership. She located a space in Brooklyn and decked it out with furniture suited to different body types and art that she thinks will speak to people of color. The soon-to-launch community will have a tiered-fee annual membership based on financial need. --Christine Lagorio-Chafkin
Her global community for C-suite women means it’s no longer lonely at the top.
As Carolyn Childers was climbing the ranks of her career, she realized how few mentorship and growth opportunities there were for those at the top. "I felt like women in the C-suite were spending all of our time mentoring other people and didn't really have a community for ourselves," she says. A former SVP at housecleaning-app maker Handy, she and co-founder Lindsay Kaplan launched Chief, a private network for women executives, in January. It costs up to $7,800 per year, and there are now more than 1,100 members representing more than 700 companies, including Apple, Nike, WeWork, Lyft, Amazon, Instagram, and Walmart. (There are another 7,000 would-be members on a waitlist.) Membership includes mentorship-pairing across industries, as well as access to a clubhouse, a networking app, and monthly events and workshops. --Brit Morse
She created the leading co-working and community space for women—and inspired others to follow suit.
Women today don’t just need a room of their own--they need a whole wing. That was the thinking when Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan named their concept for a women-focused networking and co-working space back in 2016. Since then, they’ve grown the Wing to eight locations, with three more opening before the end of year. That’ll put its membership roll at 15,000. The Wing expects to nearly double its locations in 2020 and create a digital membership for women everywhere. The company has raised $117.5 million in venture capital, mostly from women investors, and spends that money hiring other businesses founded and run by women as contractors and suppliers. --Christine Lagorio-Chafkin
After experiencing workplace bias, she created a software solution for reporting incidents and spotting patterns.
“If we can send a Tesla Roadster into outer space,” says Lisa Gelobter, co-founder of TEQuitable, “maybe we can use those same skills right here, on our own planet, to help the underserved, underrepresented, and underestimated.” Gelobter has worked as an executive at BET and as chief digital officer for the Department of Education in the Obama administration. But as a black woman in computer science--who has been mistaken more than once for the receptionist--she wanted to be doing more. Her creation, TEQuitable, is a digital platform that offers resources to employees for dealing with workplace bias, while serving up reports to management and using data to identify systemic problems. The company has raised $2 million in venture capital, making Gelobter one of only 40 black women to raise more than $1 million to date--a number so paltry, she says, “it makes me cry.” --Zoë Henry
Creating an inclusive space for women doesn’t mean you have to exclude anyone else, including men.
New York City-based Luminary founder and CEO Cate Luzio left her two-decade finance career at the end of 2018 to start Luminary, which differentiates itself from other female-first co-working spaces by emphasizing that membership is open to everyone (no applications; you can be an intern or a CEO), and that men are warmly welcomed in the space. “I had many male mentors,” Luzio says, “and if we're ever going to change all of the statistics we hear about [workplace inequality], we need men as part of the journey.” Since opening in a 15,000-square-foot space this January, Luminary has hosted 150 events and has grown to over 500 members, with 37 percent of members being women of color. --Anna Meyer