Bev Shah, CEO and founder of City Hive, the network for women in financial services, has sharply criticised the events that took place at the Presidents Club Dinner in London recently, and which now threaten to drag down the reputation of the entire financial sector yet again.
“The Presidents Club Dinner has deeply damaged our industry. The public see us as a part of The City. They don’t distinguish between hedge funds, bankers, lawyers, billionaire businessmen,” Shah said.
“Trust, once broken, is hard to earn back. I know there are a lot of decent men and women in the asset and investment management industry who want their clients, their peers, their friends and family to know that the Presidents Club Dinner does not represent them. It, and the culture that permitted it, doesn’t represent what we do or who we are.”
“It is times like this that leadership is most needed and most tested. So, I urge CEOs – and the rest of the C-suite and boards of directors – across asset and investment management firms to actually show, not just say, that they are not a part of this. That they are committed to supporting women. That they are working to create a more balanced, respectful industry, and one which allows everyone to be rewarded on merit.”
The Presidents Club Dinner scandal was broken after undercover reporting in the Financial Times. The FT reported that the all-male guest list at the latest annual event was entertained by hired female hostesses, who were subject to alleged sexual harassment. The Dinner is intended to raise money for charities. However, recipients have been returning funding pledges and long standing donor participants have withdrawn any future support in response to the scandal, leading the Club to announce its closure. The scandal has also led to UK education minister Nadhim Zahawi facing hard questions from senior members of the UK government, including both prime minister Theresa May, and so-called party whips – effectively enforcers of political parties who are meant to ensure members of Parliament vote in line with government objectives – about his presence as a guest at the event, and why he did not report previously what the FT subsequently did.