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A Tortoise File

Feminism Inc.

The Wing was the perfect haven for professional women – until it wasn’t. Here’s what happens when corporate feminism turns sour.

Feminism Inc.

First published
Monday 30 November 2020

Last updated
Monday 8 February 2021

Why this story?

In the summer of 2020, a succession of famous “girl boss” CEOs resigned after accusations of racism, mistreatment and workplace toxicity hit the companies they ran. These were companies that had grown powerful in the age of Instagram, selling a brand of female empowerment, and had built loyal followings among young women. It was a moment of reckoning for a particular kind of corporate feminism, pioneered in the 2010s, and suddenly: it seemed to be over.

In this Tortoise File, we investigate what went wrong? Business had been booming. Millions had been pouring in to these companies from venture capital firms keen to buy into a particular idea of the millennial woman. But in a flash, the facade, so deftly built on social media, was torn away – by employees and consumers who no longer accepted the divergence between mission and reality. Basia Cummings, Editor