Private group of female members, Chief, is called out for white feminism

Private female membership start-up, Chief, is currently in hot water for what some have called manifestations of exclusion, prejudice and white feminism. The female-led startup was founded in 2019 and was able to raise over $100 million in fundingreaching unicorn status. In 2021, the leader was recognized as one of the 10 most innovative companies in terms of the work environment by fast business. Describes itself as “a powerful rolodex of senior executives from diverse backgrounds, industries, and organizations”, Chief has a network of 20,000 members. But some claimed the band wasn’t all it was made out to be. Several women have taken to LinkedIn to express their frustrations with the group. Several past, current and potential members of underrepresented racial groups agreed to be interviewed about their experiences.

In a now viral LinkedIn position on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2023, Denise Conroy shared that she was canceling her membership as a chef. In the post, Conroy explained that her decision was based on the group’s prioritization of white feminism. Conroy explained his many issues with the group, including the apparent bias that is built into their practices. “Members are expected to be able to recommend qualified women for membership. I referred three… all women of color. All three were ghosts. Neither I nor they received even the slightest acknowledgment of their candidacy. I have learned from others that this experience is not unique. It is important to note that although women from underrepresented backgrounds have has raised the alarm about Chief in the past, it wasn’t until Denise Conroy, a white woman, shared her experiences that A declaration was made and action was taken by the chief.

In an email statement in response to the backlash Chief has received, co-founders Carolyn Childers and Lindsay Kaplan shared: We believe in building our community, the identity groups represented, our approach to intersectional feminism, and how which we support the advancement of underrepresented groups in business. We take all feedback we receive from members of our community very seriously, and we provide a forum to have these important and honest conversations. There’s always more work that can be done, and it’s an ongoing journey for all of us – something we’ll always be invested in because it’s the foundation of the impact we want Chief to have in the world. We are committed to improving and developing our existing foundations.

CEO and principal consultant of an investment company DSRD Council, Dr. Samantha-Rae Dickenson, shared his thoughts on Chief’s reaction to recent criticism and backlash. Dickenson explained “on their website they dedicate a whole page to DCI’s efforts and the diversity of their community, however, many women of color, especially black women, who qualify have shared that they have been denied membership, treated as an afterthought, or ghosted. Posting blanket statements retroactively, without directly reaching out to the community they claim to serve, seems like the goal is to save face rather than solve problems and be truly inclusive.

Seeing the band members’ sense of camaraderie and community was what first stung by Natasha Bowman curiosity. “I was interested in joining Chief after seeing so many female executives wearing the green sweatshirt and talking about how they felt supported in this community. At the same time, I received a message from two female founders who told me that they had named me a member. I never heard from the chef, so I decided to contact them. During our conversation they informed me that I was not qualified as the requirement was that you must lead an organization with at least 300 people in the reporting structure… shortly after I saw white women joining the chief who did not meet the eligibility requirements,” she explained. Bowman is a leadership company president, speaker, and author who has earned recognition for her work. After Bowman shared her experience, Chief reached out to her. “I wrote an article on LinkedIn about being denied membership. It was only then that they reached out and extended an invitation. I never received an explanation as to to why I was denied membership to begin with.

Before Denise Conroy’s viral post, Chief Marketing Advisor Lola Bakare had shared her thoughts on Chief and the apprehension she felt about joining the group in a LinkedIn job. Bakare shared, “I read that the mission is to help women reach the highest levels of leadership…I also read that the targeted members are women at the highest levels of leadership. What am I missing? I’m asking in public because I’m one of many women who believe in mission and are considering joining the ranks, but feel a bit unsure about the inclusiveness of the approach. I want to join a women’s rights group. I don’t want to join a women’s country club. Many women, especially those from marginalized groups, may have felt that Chief was out of reach for them.

With the high price, members who join the group expect to feel valued and supported, but for Netta Jenkins, This was not the case. “I officially joined Chief on March 1, 2022 to connect and take my businesses to the next level,” Jenkins explained. Jenkins is an executive, founder and author. “When I arrived I was upfront that the $8,000 fee was extremely high. I inquired about the grants and received their $3,800 grant. In 2022 it was reported that chief membership fees were $5,800 per year for women at the vice president level and $7,900 for those at the C-suite, with many members getting their fees covered by their employers. Despite exorbitant annual dues, the group may not have done enough to prioritize the needs of its members. “My cohort group kicked off and I loved my group. Things quickly took a turn after my cohort instructor deceased. The group received an email regarding the death. I was devastated. Someone who had been coaching us for almost a year passed and the founder didn’t personally email us. They did not visit the band to check in. It was handled as usual…the new instructor was nice, but I was disgusted by the lack of empathy and it made me wonder if the chief founders saw people just as a number,” explained Jenkins.

Some chief members have decided that membership just isn’t worth it. Senior Sibil Sebastien Patri shared in a LinkedIn position that she ended her membership because, in her view, Chief “doesn’t center women of color and other intersectionality, and [they] can grow and apologize and be better. It will take a lot of work. » President and CEO Dr Nika White shared that she recently canceled her membership after seeing how black women were treated. “Hearing the stories of several black women in my network… put me off. As a head member making this huge investment, I had to question this further to learn for myself how my experience could be so different from that of other black women inside and outside my circle. It was during these conversations that I became more deeply exposed to how often black women were hurt by some type of engagement with Chief, either as a prospect wanting to join or as a member. These discoveries caused me to re-evaluate my membership. White went on to explain, “While my admissions experience was the opposite, as a black woman and equity practitioner, I could not in good conscience justify renewing my membership for a second year.”

It is important to think about the timeless words of the bells that writing In Feminism is for everyone: Passionate politics, “There could be no true sisterhood between white women and women of color if white women were not able to divest themselves of white supremacy, if the feminist movement were not fundamentally anti-racist.” Any group, community or organization designed for women must be designed with the most underserved, underrepresented and marginalized people in mind. As brackets a writinghe East possible for women to thrive and succeed without dominating each other. It should be noted that any approach to the advancement of women that does not consider intersectionality will fail. This situation should be a learning lesson for everyone. Creating a community where every member is able to thrive requires you to prioritize members who are on the fringes; those of the most vulnerable populations. Do not center their means that any group, community or organization will not be sustainable.

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