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In its own way, the #MeToo moment has come to Davos. At least two panels tackled sexual harassment head on, the first time in recent history it’s been a topic of official discussion at the World Economic Forum. The forum’s seven co-chairs this year were women, and while the attendees are still overwhelmingly male, among the younger set, half are female. Along the promenade, Procter & Gamble Co. sponsored a multimedia installation that dispelled myths about women at work. The “Girls Lounge,” a woman-centered space at the event, was renamed the “Equality Lounge.” At the same time, the annual gathering of global business elites makes plain the challenges in the broader corporate world. Women made up 20 percent of the attendees, roughly equal to the percentage of women in board rooms – where parity remains a century away.
In the program, mentions of biodiversity outnumbered mentions of human diversity by 50 per cent. At least three times as many discussions were devoted to blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies than to sexual harassment and gender balance. Sexual harassment pushed its way onto the business agenda this year, following the downfall of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and an ensuing wave of allegations that continue to bring low other high-profile men across industries. Global leaders are grappling with the same questions and concerns that are fueling rabid discussions on social media and at the bar: Trying to understand where we go from here. During social activities, guests navigated some of the same awkwardness that can colour gender dynamics at work. In the cafe at the congress center in Davos, a handful of female executives were catching up when a man they knew approached their table.