In case you weren't aware, the World Economic Forum is an annual ego-strokefest held in Davos, Switzerland. It brings together the leaders of business and a whole scrum of other people who are willing to plunk down a metric asston of money to hobnob with other people that are willing to plunk down a metric asston of money. Then, of course, there's a small army of media people there that lap it up. Like I said, a real strokefest.
A big dig on Davos is that, not only is it a big strokefest, but that it's a big sausage strokefest. The number of women attendees has stalled in the last few years, at a range of about 15-17% since 2005, including 17% this year. The WEF established quotas for the event in 2011, but questions about the lack of women go back to at least 2009.
The quota for the WEF's "strategic partners" requires one woman for every four men and, yes, the Big 4 are included in this exclusive group of 100 global companies. Obviously the next questions is, are they meeting the quota?
Thanks to Quartz's handy-dandy searchable Davos guest list tool, we can easily find out. Here are all of the attendees from the Big 4, with the women highlighted in bold.
Deloitte — Joe Echevarria, CEO (U.S.); Barry Salzberg, CEO (Global); David Sproul, CEO (UK); Alain Pons, CEO (France); Yoriko Goto, Member Managing Partner, Financial Services Industry Group (Japan)
Ernst & Young — Mark Weinberger, Chairman/CEO-elect (Global); Jim Turley, Chairman/CEO (Global); Beth Brooke, Global Vice-Chair, Public Policy; Ernst Ligteringen, Chief Executive, Global Reporting Initiative; Mark Otty, Area Managing Partner Europe, Middle East, India and Africa; John Ferraro, Global COO; Rajiv Memani, Country Managing Partner, India
KPMG — John Veihmeyer, Chairman/CEO (U.S.); Alan Buckle, Deputy Chair (Int'l); Rolf Nonnenmacher, Chairman (Europe, Middle East, Africa and India); Isabelle Allen, Global Head of Sales and Markets; Michael Andrew, Chairman (Global)
PwC — Bob Moritz, Senior Partner (U.S.); Dennis Nally, Chairman (Int'l); Norbert Winkeljohann, Senior Partner (Germany); Ian Powell, Senior Partner (UK); Cassie Wong Chui-Ping, Asia-Pacific Regional Tax Leader
How about the Ernst working at Ernst? That's gotta be good cocktail party fodder — "I put the Ernst in Ernst & Young, baby!"
ANYWAY, it would shallow and callous to attempt to determine whether someone is deemed worthy of a trip to Davos purely based on name and title but I'll try.
Deloitte — Yoriko Goto, bless her heart, is the only Deloitte representative that is NOT a CEO. She runs the FS group in Japan. A pretty important job but Davos worthy? Let's call it borderline.
Ernst & Young — Beth Brooke is global vice-chair of public policy. That sounds pretty political. And pretty global. Seems fine.
KPMG — Isabelle Allen, global head of sales and markets. Again, global sounding, so she's got that going for her. Sales are pretty important too, so KPMG must be trying to drum up some business at WEF this year. Allowed.
PwC — Cassie Wong Chui-Ping runs the tax practice for China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tawain. Probably one of the most important jobs in the entire firm. Seems legit.
It's interesting to note that two of the female delegates are from Asia, which is a far more male-centric culture than even the U.S. There are some old BSDs in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Tokyo grumbling to themselves about that, I assure you.
Bottom line — yes, while it seems that the Big 4 pulled their female representatives out of a hat, they did manage to meet the quota. Although I'm not sure how Ernst & Young managed to squeeze in two extra dudes without half of another woman. I won't tell the Davos overlords if you won't.