About 800 of Canada’s most powerful women belong to a women’s-only club located in an old chocolate factory, reports Carolyn King in The Wall Street Journal (12/12/13). The club is called Verity, and it’s like men’s clubs in many ways, with "meeting rooms, a top-rated chef and a gym." However, it "also offers manicures, a hairstyling salon and a florist" as well as "an unabashedly feminine ambience … jewel-toned flocked wallpaper, pink settees and lots of flowers." Most of all, it provides "a chance to network and participate in mentoring and other programs."
In concept, similar clubs for women exist in the US. The difference is the clout Verity has developed among "some of Toronto’s top lawyers, executives and entrepreneurs." This may be attributable to "the more concentrated size of corporate Toronto, which makes it more difficult for women to penetrate but conversely may make it easier to foster a club." In any case, Verity has "grown from 150 founding members a decade ago" to more than 800 today. Much of the growth has occurred by word-of-mouth, although some big Toronto companies sponsor memberships, too.
Among them is the Canadian unit of Deloitte, which "pays for Verity memberships for 10 high-performing and high-potential female employees." "It’s to recognize them and give them further opportunities for development," says Colleen Albiston, chief marketing officer for Deloitte in Canada. Canadian law does not prohibit gender-exclusive clubs, and in fact men are permitted on the premises "so long as they have been signed in by a member. Members say many men are intrigued by the club and ask to be invited." Membership costs $9,500 (Canadian), and another $2,850 in annual dues.