TOXIC workplace: WSJ accuses Klaus Schwab, WEF of sexual harassment and discrimination against blacks
07/07/2024 // Belle Carter // Views

The Wall Street Journal has recently published an article exposing the World Economic Forum and its octogenarian founder Klaus Schwab of sexual harassment and discrimination against blacks in the workplace.

Under Schwab's administration, WEF has reportedly allowed an atmosphere hostile to women and Black people in its workplace, according to internal complaints, email exchanges and interviews with dozens of current and former Forum employees and other people familiar with the organization's practices.

Half a dozen women have complained of sexual harassment at the hands of senior managers, who are still working at the Forum. Two said they were sexually harassed years ago by VIPs at Forum gatherings, including at Davos, where female staff were expected to be at the delegates' beck and call.

Since WEF's earliest years, staffers reported that women received warnings about Schwab. They said that if you find yourself alone with him, he may make uncomfortable comments about your appearance. They describe his behavior as more awkward than menacing, but inappropriate for a leader. Schwab has been married to his wife Hilde, who was his former assistant, since 1971.

Barbara Erskine, a former Forum communications executive, said that Schwab told a board member to tell her that she needed to lose weight. Schwab told other executives that she had no charm. A receptionist who worked for Schwab said he asked her to private dinners and excursions. She said she had to be clear with him more than once "what kind of relationship I wanted: professional and nothing sexual." One staffer who worked in Geneva in the 2000s claimed that Schwab once propped his leg up on her desk with his crotch facing her and told her he wished she was Hawaiian because he'd like to see her in a Hawaiian costume.

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WEF claimed that its leader has never made sexual advances toward an employee and the women's allegations were vague and false. "Mr. Schwab does not and has never engaged in the vulgar behaviors you describe," a Forum spokesman said.

Meanwhile, in two more recent incidents, employees registered internal complaints after white Forum managers used the N-word around Black employees. Black employees also raised formal complaints to Forum leaders about being passed over for promotions or left out of Davos.

WEF declined to make Schwab available for an interview. Forum spokesman Yann Zopf said in a statement that WSJ's writeup "mischaracterizes our organization, culture and colleagues, including our founder." (Related: Whistleblower calls for WEF founder Klaus Schwab to be ARRESTED over "crimes against humanity.")

WEF fires pregnant women, "old" employees

WSJ also covered stories of how employees over 50 years old were laid off because the human resources chief decided to lower the average age of the workforce. The HR chief, a seasoned former World Bank executive named Paolo Gallo, declined, pointing out that there has to be a reasonable explanation for firing somebody, such as poor performance. But Schwab fired Gallo.

In 2017, Schwab tapped a young woman to lead an initiative for startups but as soon as she got pregnant, the globalist said she wouldn't be able to continue working at the same pace. She was pushed out after what the Forum said was a brief trial period. At least six female staffers were also fired or otherwise saw their careers suffer when they were pregnant or returning from maternity leave.

In a written responses to WSJ, the Forum said it holds itself and its employees to a high set of values, with confidential reporting channels and a thorough investigation process. The organization claimed that its leader never created an age limit for employees and that he collaborated with the HR chief to make it possible for people to work beyond the normal retirement age. Another WEF spokesman also said women don't face a higher rate of turnover after parental leave and that at least 150 employees returned from leave to the same or a better job during eight years.

Schwab sent a letter to the WSJ's publisher and editor-in-chief to share concerns about the reporting for this article. Then a memo to the WEF staff came out on May 21, where it was announced that Schwab planned to step aside as executive chairman, which he indicated was part of a long-planned transition. He said he would stay on as non-executive chairman of the board of trustees.

WSJ interviewed more than 80 current and former employees ranging in tenure from as far back as the 1980s through the present day. Some of them have bonded over what they describe as shared trauma in a WhatsApp group called "WEFugees" that has hundreds of former employees.

"It was distressing to witness colleagues visibly withdraw from themselves with the onslaught of harassment at the hands of high-level staff, going from social and cheerful to self-isolating, avoiding eye contact, sharing nightmares for years after," said Farid Ben Amor, a former U.S. media executive who worked at the Forum for more than a year before resigning in 2019. "It is particularly distressing when contrasted with the eagerness and earnestness with which many of us joined the Forum." contains stories about the ongoing globalization of our world, WEF and Klaus Schwab.

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