In its infancy, Davos was a rather dry affair, the preserve of boring company men and tweed-jacket economists who met to discuss management techniques and “stakeholder capitalism.” The original organizers in the 1970s gave it the instantly repellent title the European Management Forum. You might have been sent there if your boss wanted you out of the way.
How the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering evolved from that into a champagne and caviar-saturated playground for the super-rich jetting in to discuss changing the world even though the status quo seems to suit them down to the ground is something of a mystery.
A lot of it though has to do with its founder Klaus Schwab, a German engineer and economist, who at 85 remains the event’s main driving force. As Vanity Fair noted recently, Schwab “developed the forum from an earnest meeting of policy wonks into a glittering assembly of the world’s richest people. He achieved this by ingratiating himself with those who wield power, and especially the billionaire class – a tribe known as Davos Man.”
Of course when you get here, you quickly realize there are different grades of Davos men and women with different color badges, denoting their social status, their access to events and, yes, those champagne and caviar parties.
Effectively there’s a caste system. At the very top are the white badges with special insignia that denote high-level participants or heads of state, the ones who come for the day and leave in a swoosh of minders. Then it’s orange, green, purple, blue and red (an order that’s too confusing to explain).
See full article from The Irish Times.