On Tuesday, the Financial Times published a story by Madison Marriage, a reporter who went undercover as a hostess at last week’s exclusive, black tie, male-only Presidents Club Charity Dinner in London. What she found was, well, exactly what you would imagine.
The dinner is an annual event for over 300 powerful men in business, politics, finance, and sports. No women are allowed, besides the 130 hostesses who are required to be “tall, thin, and pretty,” and must wear short, tight black dresses, black high heels, and matching black underwear.
According to FT, hostesses said men made rude comments, reached up their skirts, groped them, and invited them up to their rooms. One woman also said a guest exposed his penis to her.
“I’ve never done this before, and I’m never doing it again,” one hostess said. “It’s f*cking scary.”
When they weren’t harassing the staff, guests were participating in a charity auction to raise money for things like children’s hospitals. Among the items being auctioned were a lunch with British foreign secretary Boris Johnson, a night at a high-end strip club, and a plastic surgery package to “Add spice to your wife.” The glossy brochure of auction lots also included a full-page ad warning against any kind of sexual harassment.
There was security at the event, but their job seemed to be less about protecting the women than making sure they stayed with guests. One security guard was reportedly placed at the door to the ladies’ room, keeping time to make sure hostesses didn’t take too much time before returning to the floor.
None of the trustees for the Presidents Club Charity commented on the allegations, but Caroline Dandridge, the founder of Artista, the agency which hired the hostesses, (and a woman who apparently hasn’t read the news recently) told FT: “There is a code of conduct that we follow, I am not aware of any reports of sexual harassment and with the calibre of guest, I would be astonished.”
Read the full story here.