Curious Capitalist

Does Davos and Corporate America Have a Problem with Women?

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Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is one of the few Davos Women (Christian Hartmann/REUTERS)

I was LOLing at my friend Anya Schiffrin’s very clever piece in the Guardian this week on the new quota for women at Davos. I also love her Davos Wife blog for Reuters: (the list of essentials is truly mandatory reading for all Forum participants).

• Sleeping pills to help cope with jet lag. (Nothing worse than staggering off to the inevitable breakfast with Pakistani PM at 2am EST)
• Bottles of water as it’s very dry there.
• A few books and magazines to read while waiting for my husband. Vanity Fair is too thick so I will try and pick up a copy of Monocle at the airport.
• A thick skin. I developed this over the years. It’s a vital protection from the barrage of snubs that are bound to come my way.

Although I am sitting this year out myself, as anyone who has been knows, there’s hardly a skirt in the crowd, and the WEF has decided to try and fix that by force. Personally, I don’t think they should. Here’s why:

The mostly estrogen free zone that is the Davos Congress Centre simply reflects the reality of C-suite corporate life around the world. There still aren’t that many women at the top, especially in Europe.

Which shows how dumb a lot of big companies are. Last year, I chaired a Davos panel on “women as the world’s largest emerging market” including folks like facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Goldman Sachs advisor Laura Liswood, and author Margaret Atwood. The event was over-subscribed with both male and female executives who wanted to figure out how to cash in on the fact that women are going to make the majority of the world’s new income in the next ten years. If that doesn’t convince Davos Man he needs to employ more high level women, I don’t know what will.