From the Presidents Club to Weinstein, it seems change only happens once bad behaviour becomes a scandal. How about next time we don’t wait?by Louise Ridley / January 25, 2018 / Leave a comment
You couldn’t make it up. If there was any doubt that sexism and sexual harassment are ingrained in the upper echelons of the country, look no further than the Presidents Club, a secretive group of “esteemed members of the investment, real estate, sports, entertainment, motor industry and fashion world” who gathered at what appeared to be a sexual harassment bonanza that the Financial Times revealed this week.
If Harvey Weinstein was a monster, the investigation into the Presidents Club gala revealed a monstrous party, a “men only” event for leaders apparently representing most of British business (so few women are CEOs that who cares about excluding them, right?)
Men only, that is, obviously except for the female staff who were groped, sexually harassed and propositioned, according to the Financial Times. Pieces of meat allowed, business women forbidden.
Of course, the reaction has been shock. Some men who attended are busy stating that they left early (though the FT story suggests the alleged behavior started, erm, before the canapes were served). Great Ormond Street Hospital, one of the charities the event fundraised for, has said it didn’t know what happened at the event or that it would be receiving money from it. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson did not know he was included in an auction as a prize. David Walliams, the event host, is appalled.
I’m not implying that they did know what was going on—but maybe they should have done. In a post-Weinstein climate, it isn’t just shameful to attend an event that quite obviously oozes with sexism, it’s stupid too.
These Presidents Club events have run for 33 years, attended by hundreds of men. The group has given some £20 million to charity and the dinner is one of the UK’s biggest fundraising events of the year, according to Walliams, and guests and partners would have had a long relationship with it.
At least some of the UK’s most powerful people will have witnessed, and allegedly perpetrated, sexual harassment. It’s pretty galling that a newspaper had to send in undercover women to expose this, while hundreds of the most powerful people in the country were in the room.
Rightly, many companies associated with…