Female participation decreases at World Economic Forum

BY newsdesk  January 23, 2014 at 3:33 PM EST

AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI

What happens when you invite some of the world’s top leaders to a meeting but tell them to extend the invite to female counterparts? Nothing, according to The Guardian.

Two years after the World Economic Forum asked 100 of its largest partners to bring one woman for every four men they sent to the summit, the proportion of women attendees fell from 17 percent in 2011 to 15 percent in 2014.

The Guardian explores the demographics of the World Economic Forum’s 2,500 attendees

When the World Economic Forum initiated the quota two years ago, it was seen as part of a broader attempt to be more inclusive. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi were invited, among other women, as speakers to champion women as leaders.

As one of the most aspirational forums abroad, the World Economic Forum convenes 2,500 of the world’s preeminent political, business and media leaders to deliberate broad topics like global conflict and economy. But so far, many invitees have simply ignored the quota, bringing four men when they could send five total delegates.

Unsurprisingly, when women are excluded from the summit, it can be for harder for them to learn from the outside looking in. Despite its recent attempts at change, the World Economic Forum is traditionally an ironclad institution operating on a strict code of conduct.

The terms are that “participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), not that of any other participant, may be revealed.”

So while information exchanged during the summit can be shared, the details, which can be useful in business collaborations, are kept private to outsiders. In this case, many women.

“If we hold the glass up to global leadership, the reflection that comes back is this,” the forum’s communications director Adrian Monck told The Guardian. “It’s just not good enough.”

Monck’s attitude suggests change is slow.

A new study found that women-owned or -managed hedge funds returned six percentage over the last 6.5 years, ahead of the S&P which rose 4.2 percent and the HRFX Global Hedge Fund Index dropping around 1 percent. Women leaders have been proven to outperform the market and yet, the guests heading and attending this week’s events will be overwhelmingly male.

H/T Ruth Tam