WPP cuts ties with men-only event where women were 'harassed' and 'groped'

WPP has become embroiled in a row over sexism and misogyny following an exposé into the lewd behaviour of a men-only event sponsored by the advertising giant in London.

Sorrell: did not attend this year's event but has said he had 'never seen anything like' the antics described
Sorrell: did not attend this year's event but has said he had 'never seen anything like' the antics described

Undercover reporters from the Financial Times attended this year’s Presidents Club dinner, a black-tie event at the Dorchester hotel in which 130 female hostesses were hired to wear skimpy clothing. 

WPP sponsored a table at the event last week, as it has in previous years, the FT reported. Chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell was not present at this year’s event but he has been in the past. Andrew Scott, WPP’s chief operating officer for Europe, attended in Sorrell’s absence, the report said.

The newspaper reported men had "repeatedly" put their hands up hostesses’ skirts and that one attendee had exposed his genitals to one of them.

Speaking this morning on Radio 4, Sorrell said he had "never seen anything like that" and that the allegations were "highly regrettable".

The event, for leading British businessmen, has been running for over 30 years. A seating plan for last week’s event includes Arcadia Group’s Sir Philip Green, Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi, and Lord Mendelsohn, husband of Facebook’s vice-president for Europe Nicola Mendelsohn.

In a statement, the Dorchester said it had a zero-tolerance policy regarding harassment of guests or employees and told the FT it was unaware of the allegations cited in the report.

WPP said in a statement that it will not be supporting the fundraiser in the future: "Neither the company nor our attendees were aware of the alleged incidents until informed of them by the Financial Times.

"WPP takes these reports very seriously and, while we will continue to support relevant charities, in light of the allegations we are ending our association with the event."

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