Secret diary of a businessperson who is also female

Naked nudity.

The New Statesman's Businessperson Who Is Also Female asks why some women happily prance around naked in the office gym changing room only to then cover up in the presence of men in the boardroom.

Topicality Watch! By coincidence my esteemed peer Board Babe has recently written about a very similar subject over at the Telegraph.

As a woman who is also a businessperson, I have recently spent time in the gym. Maybe it's something to do with the Olympics?!? (Topical). I went to the gym recently, and couldn't help but notice that there were a lot of women in the women's changing room. Women who looked different from each other. Women putting their socks on, women opening and closing lockers. Some of these women had literally no clothes on them at all.

All this got me thinking. Why is it, that in the changing room, women will happily wear no clothes - confident as wood nymphs frolicking in an autumn glade - yet in the boardroom will often "cover themselves" through wearing several layers of clothing (this point is metaphorical)?

In a recent meeting, in which our company announced that half the staff were about to be made redundant, I noticed that many of the women were quiet, with defensive body language, eyes on the floor. I felt like we had returned to the 1950s, or migrated to Saudi Arabia, or been flung forward into some futuristic dystopia where women are quiet/clothed. Where was the "naked ambition" they had shown after real tennis? Surely they could have pulled their socks up (metaphorically), rolled up their sleeves (metaphorically), and come up with some ideas to pull this company up by its boot straps? Why are women so rubbish apart from me?

My advice to women? Be better.


Dita Von Teese is almost naked in this picture. Photograph: Getty Images

Businessperson Who Is Also Female is a woman. She is currently enjoying Board Babe, a Telegraph blog by a female who is also a businessperson. Great minds..!!

Photo: Getty Images
Show Hide image

The buck doesn't stop with Grant Shapps - and probably shouldn't stop with Lord Feldman, either

The question of "who knew what, and when?" shouldn't stop with the Conservative peer.

If Grant Shapps’ enforced resignation as a minister was intended to draw a line under the Mark Clarke affair, it has had the reverse effect. Attention is now shifting to Lord Feldman, who was joint chair during Shapps’  tenure at the top of CCHQ.  It is not just the allegations of sexual harrassment, bullying, and extortion against Mark Clarke, but the question of who knew what, and when.

Although Shapps’ resignation letter says that “the buck” stops with him, his allies are privately furious at his de facto sacking, and they are pointing the finger at Feldman. They point out that not only was Feldman the senior partner on paper, but when the rewards for the unexpected election victory were handed out, it was Feldman who was held up as the key man, while Shapps was given what they see as a relatively lowly position in the Department for International Development.  Yet Feldman is still in post while Shapps was effectively forced out by David Cameron. Once again, says one, “the PM’s mates are protected, the rest of us shafted”.

As Simon Walters reports in this morning’s Mail on Sunday, the focus is turning onto Feldman, while Paul Goodman, the editor of the influential grassroots website ConservativeHome has piled further pressure on the peer by calling for him to go.

But even Feldman’s resignation is unlikely to be the end of the matter. Although the scope of the allegations against Clarke were unknown to many, questions about his behaviour were widespread, and fears about the conduct of elections in the party’s youth wing are also longstanding. Shortly after the 2010 election, Conservative student activists told me they’d cheered when Sadiq Khan defeated Clarke in Tooting, while a group of Conservative staffers were said to be part of the “Six per cent club” – they wanted a swing big enough for a Tory majority, but too small for Clarke to win his seat. The viciousness of Conservative Future’s internal elections is sufficiently well-known, meanwhile, to be a repeated refrain among defenders of the notoriously opaque democratic process in Labour Students, with supporters of a one member one vote system asked if they would risk elections as vicious as those in their Tory equivalent.

Just as it seems unlikely that Feldman remained ignorant of allegations against Clarke if Shapps knew, it feels untenable to argue that Clarke’s defeat could be cheered by both student Conservatives and Tory staffers and the unpleasantness of the party’s internal election sufficiently well-known by its opponents, without coming across the desk of Conservative politicians above even the chair of CCHQ’s paygrade.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.