chef co-founders Carolyn Childers and Lindsay Kaplan started the company because they had firsthand experience of being female executives without much support. They created a community of women leaders that is now 20,000 strong, with 60,000 on waiting lists, but just don’t call these women “girl bosses.”
The two women appeared on australiabusinessblog.com Disrupt in San Francisco today.
Kaplan asked the audience how many men call themselves “boy boss.” No one raised their hand.
“We don’t use the expression ‘boy boss’. We only use the expression ‘girl boss’ because we put women in a different category instead of just assuming that a woman can be a leader. And that’s why I don’t like that sentence. I don’t like to think about women in leadership. It’s just leadership,” Kaplan told the Disrupt audience.
She added: “How can we celebrate, not tear down, not infantilize women what it is to be a female leader by calling them a ‘girl boss’ and really empower women to lead and take it on? can do it their own way.”
The three-year-old startup has grown from a 200-strong group in NYC to a 20,000-strong organization that has raised $140 million on a $1 billion valuation.
Yet they still have 60,000 women who want to participate. Kaplan stresses that it is more important to give its members a highly curated and valuable experience than to grow too fast and lose their value proposition.
“The member experience is the most important. So if you ask about growth, if we consider how we’ve only scratched the surface of 5 million women [executives] in the US, it’s so important to us to make sure members really love their experience,” she said.
It all comes back to the mission, which originated in personal experience, Childers says.
“When I started to get into the room where decisions were made, and I realized that there were differences in the way conversations were conducted for different people within the organization, that was really an eye opener for me,” she said. She decided that creating a network of like-minded women could be incredibly helpful.
This week, the company opened what they call “a clubhouse” in San Francisco, a place where women can meet in person. They have three more in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. In addition, they expanded into the UK outside the US for the first time.