WPP cuts ties with men-only event where women were 'harassed' and 'groped'

Share this content:

Undercover reporters from the Financial Times attended this year's Presidents Club dinner, a black-tie event at the Dorchester hotel in which 130 female hostesses were hired to wear skimpy clothing. 

WPP sponsored a table at the event last week, as it has in previous years, the FT reported. Chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell was not present at this year's event but he has been in the past. Andrew Scott, WPP's chief operating officer for Europe, attended in Sorrell's absence, the report said.

See also: Healthcare agencies not immune to gender bias, parity issues

The newspaper reported men had "repeatedly" put their hands up hostesses' skirts and that one attendee had exposed his genitals to one of them.

Speaking this morning on Radio 4, Sorrell said he had "never seen anything like that" and that the allegations were "highly regrettable".

The event, for leading British businessmen, has been running for over 30 years. A seating plan for last week's event includes Arcadia Group's Sir Philip Green, Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi, and Lord Mendelsohn, husband of Facebook's vice-president for Europe Nicola Mendelsohn.

See also: Kevin Roberts resigns from Saatchi & Saatchi after gender diversity controversy

In a statement, the Dorchester said it had a zero-tolerance policy regarding harassment of guests or employees and told the FT it was unaware of the allegations cited in the report.

WPP said in a statement that it will not be supporting the fundraiser in the future: "Neither the company nor our attendees were aware of the alleged incidents until informed of them by the Financial Times.

"WPP takes these reports very seriously and, while we will continue to support relevant charities, in light of the allegations we are ending our association with the event."

This story first appeared in Campaign.

Share this content:
Scroll down to see the next article