The World Economic Forum, an annual meeting in the reclusive mountains of Davos in Switzerland, is a swanky affair. An invite-only, black-tie, sipping-hundred-year-old-whiskey-while-tacking-down-billion-dollar-deals kind of swanky affair. It’s attended by prime ministers, bankers, business tycoons, and other movers and shakers of the global elite.
The only people who don’t attend, it seems, are women. Making up a maximum 17 percent of participants on any given year, their numbers have been paltry at best. That is, until now.
As the Guardian reports:
The forum’s “strategic partners”—a group of about 100 companies including Barclays, Goldman Sachs, and Deutsche Bank—have been told they must bring along at least one woman in every group of five senior executives sent to the high-profile event.
In short, the WEF is enacting a gender quota to avoid a perennial sausagefest.
Here’s Saadia Zahidi, head of the gender parity program:
The World Economic Forum annual meeting engages the highest levels of leadership from a variety of sectors, and participation figures are a reflection of the scarcity of women in this external pool.
The reactions to this new policy have varied. While some argue that this is a genuine effort by the WEF to inject some much-needed diversity into its elite ranks, others assert that the gesture feels empty without women having earned the right.
Perhaps the most insightful criticism is the claim that the WEF is only addressing a symptom, not the systemic lack of women in the business world as a whole. As Chris from Ameriblog states:
So far, the numbers have been pathetic. But of course, so are the numbers in the ranks of the “strategic partners” who dominate the event. The banking industry was always macho and since the crisis, it now has even fewer women in management. Northern Europe takes the issue seriously, but outside of there, few countries (the U.S. included) have made progress.
What do you think, readers? Is this move by the WEF pandering, or is it a step in the right direction? Is it a step in the wrong direction with the right intentions? You tell us.