A glitzy, glamorous bash where the champagne flowed, and canapes were consumed in abundance. Yet there was a darker, seedier side where, reportedly, flashing, touching and groping of the female hostesses took place.
‘Serving’ the attendees at the male only ‘President’s Gala’ were women who had been hired on the basis they were young pretty and thin. The undercover reporters from the Financial Times who exposed the seedy event reported how women were groped, harassed and received other unwanted attention.
It has been described as revealing the seedy underbelly of corporate life. Indeed, two attendees of the bash are reported to have said “it’s no different to what goes on at a rugby dinner”. As if that makes it OK?
One of the women who ‘worked’ the event three or four years ago said it was the worst job she had ever done in her life.
The event was an opportunity for those men, testosterone filled, successful in industry and completely pathetic to objectify women and in some cases, harass them.
And what of those who organised the rules. They are equally as repugnant, if not more so. Their rules are reported as follows: The women had to: “wear short skirts and black knickers, given alcohol and not allowed to hide in the toilets that were monitored by security guards. The only warning the women had was that some of the guests would be ‘annoying’ and that, to earn their £150 fee plus a cab home, they were obliged to sign a non-disclosure agreement.”
The misogynistic event had been held every year since 1985 so all those on the guest list knew what to expect. Indeed a few years ago a report in the Independent on Sunday said of the event there were “men tucking into the women”. So, the criticism of all those who chose to ‘innocently’ attend is entirely legitimate.
And let’s not forget the charities in this, they have innocently been caught up in the episode and some, Such as Great Ormond Street, have returned the money which was raised at the Dorchester Hotel dinner. They can’t possibly accept money from events which are completely at odds with their with ethical procedures. Fundraising must be in line with charity values and justifiable and this clearly doesn’t fall into those categories.
It’s disgraceful that the money raised and received in good faith by the charities was for hugely important, sometimes life saving machinery; beds, cancer research treatment toys for children, therapy rooms among many other things.
Here is just one example: Clatterbridge cancer charity – sending the money back
Received: £15,000 towards the building of a new specialist cancer hospital in Liverpool.
Comment: “We can confirm that we received a donation of £15,000 from the Presidents Club charitable trust last year. Following reports of completely unacceptable behaviour at their event we will be returning that donation.”
There are legislative issues in this too which have been little raised. In 2013 the then Coalition Government removed third party protection from workers, those which should protect the very women who ‘worked’ this event. They are now left without the ability to challenge such unacceptable, repugnant behaviour.