The Presidents Club scandal has given birth to a new series of fundraising dinners that organisers hope will go some way to mending the City’s tarnished image.
The annual men-only fundraiser – attended by 300 guests, many with Square Mile connections – was exposed as a cesspit of chauvinism in January when an undercover FT journalist posing as a waitress reported being groped by guests.
Reporter Madison Marriage also unveiled a damning, aggressively sexist culture – only women of a certain profile were employed as serving staff and asked to dress provocatively – which frequently witnessed waitresses being ask to go back to diner’s hotel rooms during the party at the prestigious Dorchester Hotel in Mayfair. According to some hostesses, sex workers were also in attendance.
The fundraiser pulled in hundreds of thousands of pounds for good causes through auctions, but numerous charities opted to return donations after the vulgar behaviour of some attendees came to light.
The incident undoubtedly damaged public perception of the City. However, in the aftermath of the scandal, Helena Morrissey, head of personal investing at Legal & General, has designed a new charitable trust that will bid to start rebuilding the reputation of those who work in the Square Mile.
Five dinners have already been pencilled in, with charitable proceeds from each bash expected to reach £250,000.
And unlike the Presidents Club, servers at forthcoming events will be a mix of male and female employees, with a strict code of conduct for guests.
Dame Morrissey told the FT: “Most people were taken aback that that could happen in this era and slightly paralysed about how to respond other than being very critical of the occasion.
“So I decided to do something more positive and try and show we are not all like that.”
PwC, Bloomberg, HSBC and Goldman Sachs are among the high profile firms to have already signed up to the programme of events, the first of which was hosted by M&G Investments on 21 May at the Chelsea Flower Show.