On A New Working World

Exactly four years ago today, I launched The WW Club. The idea came to me on a flight from London to Los Angeles, where I was living at the time. (Why do so many of us do our best thinking in-flight? Something to do with the lack of WiFi, no doubt…) I was mid-Atlantic, already missing my hometown crew of inspiring and supportive women, and wishing I had a similar community on the west coast. And so I decided to create one. Draining the last of my savings, I set up a temporary co-work space in the basement of downtown’s iconic Eastern Columbia Building, and wrote and self-published a career advice ‘handbook’ for young women. The WW Club was born.

The project was driven by own experience, and shaped by the demand among young women like myself for work-related information and support. I wanted to create a spectrum of resources in a style that spoke to my taste, vision, and attitude — something I couldn’t find anywhere at the time. It was a deeply personal project, but — I quickly realised — one that reflected a widespread demand. Both online and in real life, word of The WW Club spread fast. It was a pop-up when pop-ups were still the thing, and Instagram Bait before the term even existed (seriously, though). Most importantly, it was a novel concept that catered to an unspoken need.

Dozens of events, hundreds of newsletters and another book later, the professional landscape looks very different. Four years on, I’m very happy to see many more resources and initiatives are available to help modern women build modern careers — what was once a niche has evolved with dazzling speed. But it doesn’t surprise me at all. If I've seen one thing proven time and time again over the past four years, it’s that, especially in teams, women are really good at working. We’re good at working for ourselves, on ourselves, and with each other. When something needs to change, evolve, or improve — in our personal and professional communities — we do what we can to change it.

It’s a sad irony that such encouraging and optimistic developments in the workplace are playing out against an increasingly grim political and social landscape. I’m sure I’m not alone in sometimes despairing of the venality and bigotry of the Trump administration, the horrors unveiled by the #MeToo movement, and constant instances of misogyny, racism, and injustice in the global news cycle. There’s no doubt that we’re at a moment of collective reckoning: one that demands we all think deeper, try harder, and discard any remaining Millennial pink-tinted glasses.

Personally, the past couple of years have taught me that the complex issues we face will require a far more nuanced conversation than I’d previously imagined. Discussions about workplace equality, for example, need to include not just women and men, but also those who identify as neither. Structural imbalance requires collective action. Technological advancement, climate change, social media, and the rise of AI are shaping a world that will require us to live, learn and work in radically new ways.

More than ever, it feels like the discourse around work and creativity should be inclusive of everyone who finds hope and purpose in art (whatever their definition of art might be). In that spirit, my intention for The WW Club 2.0 is twofold. First, to continue exactly what I’ve been doing for the past four years — sharing ideas and resources, hosting events that foster community, and highlighting amazing people who do amazing things. But from now on, I’ll also be experimenting, and continually looking for ways to expand and deepen the dialogue, to make it more inclusive, more relevant, and — hopefully — more inspiring, to all those who continue to seek inspiration in these testing times.

To talking, and trying harder.