I had the pleasure of covering Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women lunch at the Walbrook Club in London a few days ago, and was struck by the juxtaposition of a “gentleman’s club” with the colour and sophistication of the women in it. I found myself smiling at the seeming incongruity of the rather staid and forlorn hanger of “emergency ties” tucked behind the beadle’s enclosure that seemed to belong to a different age. An age finally losing its grip as women prove themselves to be more than capable of anything they want to do.
Catherine Mayer, Time’s London Bureau Chief, welcomed those present remarking that she had once thought such events would be redundant in the 21st Century. To prove how wrong she was, she recounted the recent story of a friend who is a fund manager. The CEO of a large company had hoped that the fund would invest in his business and arranged a meeting. Said CEO entered a room to meet the fund manager and her two junior male associates. He introduced himself to the associates and asked the fund manager for a tea with two sugars. Apparently the fund manager did invest in the company, saying that “with such a stupid man at the top I knew it was ripe for takeover.”
I think we deserve everything we get.
To be fair, it is symptomatic of a deeper malaise. We are all alike incapable of judging people by their merits when there is so much to distract us on the surface. Women can be just as guilty, but where they really score is in an innate understanding of the fact that image matters. While men congratulate themselves on having the balls to wear a colourful tie with their grey, crumpled, and dandruff-flaked suit, women show that they can run the very biggest organisations brilliantly, and still have time for personal flair and colour. If they are going to be judged for how they look, they aim to look good.
In the few seconds I had to work around my brief, I thought I would concoct a little homage to their sense of style:
To find out more about Torley and his music click here.