I’ve only been to Davos once, with the then PM TB, and can’t say I enjoyed it much. All a bit ‘look how important I am, I’m at Davos,’ and all a bit gigantic cocktail party full of people looking over shoulders to see if anyone more important is looming in the middle distance. Even the title of the event – World Economic Forum – is a bit grandiose, if well-meaning.
Being a trained observer, I did notice that though there were many very attractive and well-dressed women PAs around the scene, the movers and shakers themselves were predominantly male, and wearing ties like the one Barclays’ Bob Diamond wore to the Treasury select committee.
Now the World Economic Forum has decided to do something about it, telling the big companies sending ‘delegations’ that there must be a woman among every group of five top execs. Nothing wrong with that, say I. Might force some of these companies to take a good look at themselves.
And for inspiration they, and the WEF organisers, could take a trip to Nottingham, where last night I was speaking at a dinner to raise money for Mental Health Research UK to fund a new PhD study at the university’s Institute of Mental Health.
Nottinghamshire’s great and good were out in force, including the chief constable, the city council’s chief executive, the head of the probation service, the governor of a sex offenders’ prison, the sheriff (yes the sheriff of Nottingham, surely the most famous sheriff title in the world), the high sheriff, the university’s pro-vice chancellor, a former chief nursing officer, the head of children’s services … and every single one of them was a woman. Also there was the country’s first female black High Court judge.
In addition the whole evening was put together by a woman, aforementioned High Sheriff Amanda Farr, and Mental Health Research UK founded by a woman, Clair Chilvers. The only exception to this phenomenal female domination was the Lord Lieutenant … and I warned him that on current trends he would end up being replaced by the first Lady Lieutenant.
Joking aside, it really was striking. Perhaps the WEF should send a fact-finding mission to the city to work out how they do it. The cocktails won’t be as fancy; there is no ski-ing; and very little self-importance. But there certainly were a lot of impressive women in high places.