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Tech companies are paying $200 per hour to hire models for holiday parties -- and they want cleavage and short-shorts

The Office/NBC
  • Some Silicon Valley companies are hiring attractive women to attend their holiday parties.
  • The CEO of Models in Tech told Bloomberg she often must deny client requests for models with short skirts.
  • It’s a problematic practice in an industry trying to attract more women engineers.

Nothing’s worse than a boring holiday party, so the disruptors in Silicon Valley have found a way to spice up their soirees: by hiring pretty people to attend them, reports Bloomberg’s Sarah Frier.

Big companies and small startups alike are enlisting modelling agencies to send attractive women to attend corporate holiday parties this year, paying them as much as $US200 per hour.

Some companies may also push the lines with these paid attendees – the CEO of Models in Tech told Bloomberg that she has to shoot down requests for “cleavage and short shorts.”

It seems like a minefield – the tech industry, which still has mostly men in its coveted engineering roles, had to deal with allegations of toxic, harassing investors and executives this year. Uber, the most valuable San Francisco startup, fired its CEO over a cascade of scandals that started when former employee Susan Fowler wrote that HR had threatened to fire her over her reporting sexual harassment. (One Uber investor allegedly harassed women at a holiday party he brought a live donkey to.)

Plus, the tech industry has a history of hiring so-called “booth babes” to attract passersby at big-trade shows, which has caused some major controversies.

So there’s a lot of risks involved if a startup hires “ambiance and atmosphere models” for its big holiday party. But what’s driving the trend, according to Bloomberg, is that the parties are meant to help retain high-paid, high-demand engineers, who are mostly men. After all, who wants to go to a boring party with the same coworkers you see every day?

The entire BusinessWeek story is a fascinating read.

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