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Chief, a professional network for women leaders, cuts staff amid restructuring effort
April 29, 2023

Chief, a professional network for women leaders, cuts staff amid restructuring effort

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The layoff largely hit Chief’s U.S. employees as the business’s newly launched U.K. presence is smaller. Around 262 employees remain at the company. Those who were impacted received at least 12 weeks of severance and continued healthcare insurance. Chief closed its New York office for today as employees process the news.

Chief co-founders Lindsay Kaplan and Carolyn Childers wrote the email to staff explaining the decision. Beyond attributing the ‘challenging macroeconomic environment’ that has plagued a vast number of tech startups over the past year, the duo highlighted four priorities for the business going forward: more in-person opportunity, personalization to support members, simplification of the digital experience, and lastly, to continue ‘to embed diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging into all aspects of the Chief experience.’

The last priority that was emphasized by the co-founders – to bring diversity into all of the Chief experience – comes less than one month after the New York Times published a story looking into turmoil at the business over some members’ perspective that Chief should speak up on social and economic issues that impact marginalized women. Around 33% of Chief’s membership base identifies as coming from a diverse background, down from 35% in October. The company recently hit 20,000 members.

Kaplan added that the extra scrutiny ‘doesn’t feel like a ticking time bomb. It’s us making sure that we’re always walking the walk and practicing what we preach.’

Chief clearly wants staff, members and the world to know that it is focused on experience. The workforce reduction comes one week after the business announced that it hired another executive: Sujean Lee, former chief experience officer at HypeBeast, as Chief’s first ever chief experience officer.

The company hit a $1.1 billion valuation in a matter of three years, last raising a $100 million Series B round led by Alphabet’s CapitalG in 2022. Like many others, valuations have been harder and harder to defend as the market worsens. For example, 70% of Chief members see their membership, which costs up to $7,900 annually, paid for by employers. Now those same employers are looking for expenses to cut, and slashing workforces themselves.

Chief declined to comment on the layoff and financials beyond the e-mail.


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