Our perspective

Chief: The peer network executive women have been longing for

Laela Sturdy & Jill Greenberg
31 Mar 2022
Chief: The peer network executive women have been longing for

We’re all familiar with the dismal statistics: Women only hold 8.2% of Fortune 500 and 7.3% of Fortune 1000 CEO positions. Even looking more broadly beyond the corner office, women hold less than 25 percent of all executive-level positions–and these disheartening numbers reflect historic highs.

Fortunately, due to a number of factors, ranging from research demonstrating the benefits of diverse leadership to new regulatory mandates, many leading businesses today are intensifying their efforts to recruit more women into their executive ranks.

But for all-too-many women, the path to the top is a lonely one. And for many, it’s a path that never reaches its desired destination. Not only do we need to ensure more women get into these ranks; we also need to help them stay there and continue to advance. Only 41% of female survey participants, compared to 64% of male respondents, said they have a network of coaches, mentors, and sponsors offering them career guidance.

At the same time, employers are increasingly investing in learning and development programs, spending $83 billion on them in 2020. These programs help employees develop their skills while also helping employers differentiate themselves in a supremely tight labor market. But the billions spent on L&D, of which a significant percentage gets earmarked towards senior leaders, typically take the form of one-to-many academic programs or conferences or expensive and hard to scale one-to-one executive coaches. It’s difficult to find programs that retain their relevance over time and even more difficult to find support that can be sustained in an ongoing, multi-year fashion.

Female executives crave networks where they feel comfortable asking personal and professional questions, where they can find like-minded individuals on similar trajectories to their own, and where they can find mentors who have already navigated similar challenges who can share tips and lessons learned. They crave the intimacy of a group that understands them and cheers them on, yet has the ability to scale to meet any specific need. What they crave is Chief.

Chief is a vetted network built to drive more women into positions of power–and help keep them there. It was purpose-built to help women executives strengthen their leadership, magnify their influence, and pave the way to bring others with them. 

Chief members join small, virtual “core groups” that meet monthly with professional facilitators to discuss personal and professional goals, challenges and aspirations. They are greeted with support from a group of their peers and a professional facilitator whom they trust. Chief also provides members with a proprietary platform of personalized resources, networking opportunities and small group events which drive connections and mentorship across the 12,000+ members working at 8500 of the world’s most consequential organizations, from American Express, Goldman Sachs, Pfizer, Netflix and Google to NASA, Harvard University, the US Department of Justice and the Aspen Institute. Powering this platform is Chief’s proprietary data engine that delivers highly relevant and personalized, curated content for each member. Finally, Chief grants its members exclusive access to conversations with icons like Michelle Obama, Indra Nooyi, Ursula Burns, Sara Blakely, and Stacey Abrams, as well as workshops with leading academics and other substantive opportunities for in-person gatherings across the country.

It is this rare combination of scale, breadth and depth that differentiates Chief from any other resource out there. Their 12,000+ enthusiastic members agree. When speaking with members, we often heard that joining Chief was a “no brainer,” that belonging was “something I would never give up,” and that it was “exactly what I was missing.”  It’s no surprise they have a waitlist of 60,000 women worldwide.

Chief has not only developed an important mission; it has also built a very strong business. In new investments, we always look for enthusiastic customer feedback, high engagement rates and top-of-the-line retention rates. Just as importantly, we also seek generation-defining leaders with the vision to inspire and the operational expertise and drive to execute. Chief checks all of these boxes and then some. Founders Carolyn Childers and Lindsay Kaplan have executed on their vision meticulously–and have inspired thousands of women to join them in their mission. Today we, too, ecstatically join them on their journey as we lead their Series B. We are absolutely thrilled to support Carolyn, Lindsay and the entire Chief team as they change the world for the better, one female executive at a time.

Special thanks to Manmeet Gujral for his work on this investment.

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