The “Financial Times” has infiltrated among the women hired at the annual charity dinner organized by the Presidents Club. The newspaper reports incidents of sexual assault and harassment, which the organizers are no doubt aware of.
Reporter for the Financial Times, Madison Marriage infiltrated last Thursday in one of the most exclusive evenings of London, the “Presidents Club Charity Dinner”, organized at the Dorchester Hotel. Its principle is as simple as it is classic: rich personalities (CEO, politicians, financiers, sportsmen, journalists …) get together to raise funds that will go to charity works. You buy, for example, a sports car to finance a children’s hospital. This dinner, however, has one particularity: it is reserved for men. They were 360 that night. Well, there were still some women: the 130 hostesses hired for the occasion, who had been ordered to come with “tight black clothes, matching underwear and high heels,” according to the Financial Times .
Madison Marriage, who was hired as one of the hostesses, recorded the evening on a hidden camera, and reported on it in an article for the FT.
She writes that “over the course of six hours, many of the hostesses were subjected to groping, lewd comments and repeated requests to join diners in bedrooms elsewhere in the Dorchester. Hostesses reported men repeatedly putting hands up their skirts; one said an attendee had exposed his penis to her during the evening.” The article says that many hostesses approached the evening with apprehension, one of them wondering “what [she] was doing here again”.
The most worrisome thing about the whole dinner, however, can be found in the brochure distrusted to guests. The latter titled “The Gentlemen’s Code of the Presidents Club” explains that “no form of harassment” towards the team of the evening “will be tolerated”. The dangerousness of this event for hostesses is therefore known to the company that hires them, Artista. And yet, the boss of this company, while warning them an hour before the evening that the men might “bore” them, asked them to dress “sexy”, forced them to put their cell phones in lockers and suggested to one of them not to tell her boyfriend that the evening was for men only. They also had to sign a contract prohibiting them from talking about the evening.
Asked by the Financial Times, the Presidents Club initially reacted by promising to investigate what is being advanced by the newspaper. Then he announced in a statement released at the end of the day, that he will end its activities and return the money he has left to charities for children. Earlier, David Meller, co-chair of the Presidents Club, who also sits on the British Ministry of Education, resigned from government.
The boss of Artista, meanwhile, responded that she “was not aware of facts of sexual harassment.” Adding: “Given the caliber of the guests, I would be amazed.”