At Chief, the Club for Female Executives, High-Powered Women Aim to Break the Glass Ceiling — For Good by Entrepreneur

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The statistics are familiar, and disheartening: Women in business hold less than 25 percent of all executive positions and less than 5 percent of CEO titles. For the women who do climb the corporate ladder, it can be lonely at the top — but a group called Chief is out to change that. The New York–based private network and club connects high-ranking women across industries, with the goal of fostering community and elevating more women into leadership roles. Chief launched in January with $3 million in funding and 200 founding members from such organizations as HBO, Amazon, Walmart, and Instagram. (The waitlist currently exceeds 4,000.) Its flagship offering, the Core program, splits members into groups of eight to 10 for monthly meetings to discuss their experiences in the workforce, and the Salon Series, held at Chief’s Tribeca Clubhouse, offers everything from workshops on getting a board seat to monthly poker nights. Tell the old boys’ club to move over. 

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Meredith Gertler / Executive vice president, HBO

“There’s a lot going on in my life, and in my Core session last week, Tina Wells, CEO of Buzz Marketing Group, referenced a quote that helped me: ‘Just focus on doing the next right thing,’ instead of being overwhelmed by the big picture.” 

Nicole Foster / Head of global marketing and programs, Amazon Web Services, New York 

“The group sessions leave you feeling heard, acknowledged, and valued. That can be rare, despite one’s success. It’s the idea that, yes, your skill set matters, but the relationships you build are what power companies forward.” 

Antonia Saint Dunbar Cofounder, Thinx and Antonia Saint NY

“Whoopi Goldberg spoke at our founding members’ party and talked about how when women support other women, change really happens. If we’re constantly competing, we’ll never get the support we need in the workforce — like nursing rooms and good parental-leave policies. I’m fortunate to have a nook at my company where I can sit and pump breast milk for my baby, but so many women don’t. The speech made me angry — and more motivated to grow a company that can drive change.” 

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Lindsay Kaplan / Cofounder, Chief

“Studies show that women who have a female-dominated inner circle are more likely to attain leadership positions. One of the most rewarding things has been watching spectacular women in similar roles at similar companies — who we assumed knew one another — connect for the first time. It’s establishing an intentional network of women sitting around that boardroom, creating lines of succession.” 

Kay Hsu / Creative director, Instagram Creative Shop

“A lot of people in my personal life aren’t necessarily at the same stage in their careers, so as far as people with similar leadership experiences, I don’t really have anybody to talk to. Now I’m connected with people who are facing very similar challenges at work, managing large teams, figuring out their next step, getting a promotion. I have a group of trusted advisers.” 

Ana Lucía Rosales-Boujnah Vice president, creative services, Sotheby’s

“I recently attended a breakfast at Chief on unconscious bias. It’s something most of us know exists, but we see it happen and then live with it as the status quo — we can be unconsciously insensitive. Going forward, I’m being more mindful, trying to pause a bit before I speak and put myself in other people’s shoes.”

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Sadie Thoma Director, creative partnerships, Google 

“I’m very involved with diversity and inclusion within Google, and it’s also important to me outside work, figuring out how we can get more women into leadership positions across industries. It’s about turning connections into deeper discussions: What insight can I offer that may help someone, and what perspective can I gain from these other strong leaders?”

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Image Credit: Adam Friedberg


At Chief, the Club for Female Executives, High-Powered Women Aim to Break the Glass Ceiling — For Good
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