Mahogany & Co.
When Lisa Gordon set out to find the perfect coworking space for her new business, she knew she wanted one that would meet all of her needs.
“I knew I needed a place where I could be very focused and be in my flow and push me past [these] dive in when i’m doing this transition [to entrepreneurship]Gordon told NPR.
The retired psychology professor-turned-social entrepreneur said he tried a range of coworking spaces in the Santa Monica, Calif., area, but felt like they came up with a pretense that wasn’t welcoming — especially As a woman of color.
“Even though it was very empowering, I wasn’t able to relax. I felt something alienated me in the spaces because there weren’t a lot of people who looked like me,” Gordon said. “And I accepted it because I didn’t know anything else was available.”
But there it was. Eventually, Lisa found a way to become a member of Blackbeard House.
A community coworking space located in the Los Angeles area, Blackbird House aims to support, guide and advance women of color and their allies – both professionally and personally – in a “safe space.”
“I didn’t see a lot of women of color represented [in coworking spaces], I was curious about what it would look like to start a space like this,” founder and CEO Brigid Coulter Cheadle told NPR.
“We’re not focusing on women of color. But, we’re also open to collaborators,” said Cheadle, who transitioned to interior design since making her debut as an actress in the ’90s.
When she was looking for office space for her interior design business, Cheadle said she had a lot of trouble creating an inclusive feel.
“I was always drawn to places created by women for women. Eventually, I thought ‘I really want to develop something for women of color,'” Cheadle said.
Women of color still seeking inclusive work environments
The concept of coworking spaces aims to bring people together for a sense of community. But research suggests that women of color still face challenges in finding inclusive job environments.
Researchers at McKinsey & Company say that this epidemic has affected women more than men. And women of color continue to have “the worst experiences at work.”
at McKinsey 2021 women in the workplace Reports, data shows that women of color make up only 17% of entry-level corporate positions in the workplace. And they account for only 4% of C-suite leaders.
Erica James, dean of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, said 2020 interview all things Considered Change in the business world has been slow to reflect both the current gender and racial makeup of our country.
“I think if we can build a social media platform, if we can put people on the moon and if we can have a self-driving car, there’s little we can’t do,” James said. .
“So the fact that we haven’t created a more diverse work environment yet means we haven’t made it a priority,” she said.
It’s More Than a Coworking Space
By offering personal and digital opportunities that cater to the productivity, wellbeing and advocacy of women of color, Cheadle aims to expand the Blackbird House brand across the US and internationally.
The prime location in Culver City offers members a lineup of amenities that include a communal work environment, six private offices, multiple conference rooms, a meditation room, and a cafe.
“Some people come in and they say, ‘I need to do my job,’ and you can fix that by peeing your nose,” Cheadle said.
“But then there’s this other side of getting it done, looking around and seeing people [in the room] who look like you,” he added.
Mahogany & Co.
spending a lot of time curating Blackbird to make its members feel welcome, Cheadle said he hopes this coworking space is more than “a folding table in the back” but an experience for its members.
“I want you to walk in [to Blackbird] And think it is as beautiful as Soho House or Newa House or any of these other places which are grand and tastefully designed. I want us to think of ourselves this way.”
For Gordon, she says Blackbird is a place where she can be herself without the pressure of having to code-switch while working.
“It’s perfect for me. It’s exactly what I wanted in other coworking spaces,” she said. “I don’t have to do that in Blackbird. I can just breathe.”
NPR’s Ari Shapiro contributed to this report.