The Men-Only Party Where Hostesses Are Groped & Harassed

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The news story everyone's talking about today exposes the sexism at the heart of Britain's most influential industries.
In an undercover report by the Financial Times, it was revealed that leading figures from the worlds of business, politics, finance and entertainment attended a secretive men-only charity event last week, at which the "hostesses" were allegedly groped, sexually harassed and propositioned by guests.
The yearly black-tie event at London's Dorchester Hotel, known as the Presidents Club charity dinner, has been running for more than three decades and raises money for various causes, including Great Ormond Street Hospital, which has since announced that it will be returning the money raised at the event. Here's what you need to know:

Who was there?

Three hundred and sixty influential men at the centre of British public life attended. Among those invited were Philip Green of Arcadia Group (which owns Topshop), entrepreneur and Dragons' Den star Peter Jones, and the boss of Ocado, Tim Steiner, as well as various big names in finance, politics and entertainment. It was hosted by the comedian David Walliams and among the confirmed attendees was Andrew Scott, chief operating officer for Europe of WPP, a FTSE 100 advertising conglomerate. There's no suggestion that these men engaged in any of the activities mentioned in the investigation, however.

What happened on the night?

Some of the most glaring examples of sexism and sexual misconduct, as highlighted by the FT's undercover reporter Madison Marriage, included:
• The 130 "hostesses" were "told to wear skimpy black outfits with matching underwear and high heels."
• Many were subjected to "groping, lewd comments and repeated requests to join diners in bedrooms elsewhere in the Dorchester."
• Hostesses said the attendees repeatedly [put their] hands up their skirts," while another claimed a man exposed himself to her.
• The lots on offer during the auction included a night at a strip club in Soho and a course of plastic surgery, which was offered as an invitation to: “Add spice to your wife.”
• At an after party held between 11pm and 2am at the hotel, Marriage overheard a man telling one of the women: "You look far too sober." He then proceeded to grab her, fill up her glass and added: “I want you to down that glass, rip off your knickers and dance on that table.”

What's happened since?

Maria Miller MP, chair of the parliamentary committee on women and equalities, said the event shows that many business leaders are "paying lip service to equality issues" and recommended tightening the Equalities Act, but there's not yet any indication of how this might happen. She asked: "How seriously is business taking equality at work if they are still using men only events for entertainment?" reported the Guardian.
Meanwhile, Labour MP Jess Phillips, a key figure in the campaign against sexism and harassment in politics and beyond, called the dinner "a horrendous example of rich men acting with disgusting entitlement"; while the leader of the Women's Equality Party, Sophie Walker, went further, describing it as a "grotesque circus of sleazy rich men pawing at young women,"
Walker added: “Those who are worried that women’s confrontation of sexual harassment has gone too far and turned into a ‘witch hunt’, look no further."
Sam Smethers, chief executive of women's rights charity the Fawcett Society, said the event "proves why we need sexual harassment by clients or customers to be covered by law. At the moment these women are unable to hold their employer to account for putting them in that situation."
The reaction on social media has been similarly outraged.
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