How a pregnant CEO ended up on the cover of Inc. magazine
James Ledbetter, the editor in chief of Inc. magazine, wrote the following for Talking Biz News:
We didn’t start out with the conscious idea “let’s make history.”
Still, when I learned in the spring that Audrey Gelman, the cofounder of the women’s coworking space The Wing was pregnant and not shy about it, I felt a little tingle. My mind immediately went back to the classic 1991 Vanity Fair cover featuring a very pregnant Demi Moore.
It wasn’t just about the cover, of course. Telling the full story of The Wing was itself an appealing project, and no one had done it. The company was barely three years old, and has raised an astounding $117.5 million in venture capital. I had heard about various controversies around its all-women membership policy – including a bizarre investigation by the New York City Human Rights Commission, which went nowhere – but none of that seemed to matter: the company was growing at a blazing pace. They were clearly doing something right, and it was important for Inc. to capture that story.
Moreover, the whole question of balancing motherhood and full-time work is one that tens of millions of Americans struggle with, and this was a powerful, immediate way to draw attention to that struggle.
It would be naïve to think that, even in 2019, there are no sensitivities about putting a photo of a pregnant woman on a business magazine cover. I let my colleagues in our circulation and sales department know that this was the plan, and I’m happy to report that no one raised any concern.
Gelman was hugely cooperative with our profile and our photo shoots, and the shot we used for the cover was visual dynamite. As we began to put together the issue, it dawned on me that while of course magazines (at least as far back as Vanity Fair) have put pregnant women on the cover, a visibly pregnant CEO was something unusual. I reached out to Forbes, Fortune, and BusinessWeek and no one offered up any precedent. (I heard about one or two instances when a woman in the earliest stages of pregnancy was on a cover, but no one could tell.)
The reaction has been overwhelming, from a Today Show segment to an encouraging tweet from Hillary Clinton. I’m proud to be able to bring this important story to a wide audience, and grateful to my Inc. colleagues (and to The Wing) for making it happen.