The Davos pecking order – is brutal, effective, and cynical

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL January 22, 2020

Shock, horror, Davos has a pecking order. The Alpine hothouse that hosts the global elite for four days every January at the World Economic Forum (WEF) classifies attendees. From level 1 through to 7, everyone visiting the magic mountain has a slot.

Or, I guess, a level of perceived importance to the WEF.

My former colleagues at Quartz have published the complete list. It’s worth checking out. The list is based on information that was apparently submitted to Quartz anonymously through their Secure Drop portal.

According to David Yanofsky, who wrote the piece, “the information we received contains more detail on attendees than Quartz has ever seen and reveals, in ways never before disclosed, how the WEF catalogs and categorizes the world’s powerful people”.

It’s the categorisation that’s astonishing. Journalists are privileged at level 2. That’s right below prominent CEOs such as Cees ‘t Hart of the Carlsberg Group, Khalid Abdulla-Janahi of the UAE’s Vision 3, Rovnag Abdullayev of the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic, and Gautam Adani of India’s Adani Group.

But journalists are well alongside Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Google’s senior vice president Kent Walker, Leah Wang Ying, vp of China’s Group, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, Huawei board director William Xu, Mitsubishi International president Toru Yamaguchi, and others.

Interestingly, the journalists are at a higher level than people like the chief minister of Punjab and a clutch of central bankers.

At level 3 sit Rasheed Al Maraj, governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain, Reza Baqir of the State Bank of Pakistan, Mark Carney, the departing governor of the Bank of England, Thomas J. Jordan of the Swiss National Bank, Lesetja Kganyago of the South African Reserve Bank, Klaas Knot of the Central Bank of the Netherlands, Haruhiko Kuroda of the Bank of Japan, Patrick Njoroge of Kenya, Murat Uysal of Turkey, Veerathai Santiprabhob of Thailand,  François Villeroy de Galhau of France, and even Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank.

Finance and other government ministers are also level 3 at Davos. Amarinder Singh, chief minister of the Indian state of Punjab, is level 4!

I would guess that the WEF finds it makes good sense to provide privileged access to Enrique Acevedo of Univision, USA, Mamdouh AlMuhaini, General Manager, of Al Arabiya in the United Arab Emirates, The Times London’s economics editor Philip Aldrick, WSJ editor at large Gerard Baker, Aftenposten economics correspondent Sigurd Bjørnestad and Kenneth Choi Woo-Suk, editor of Korea’s Chosun daily newspaper.

A glut of journalists assures saturation coverage.

The Davos pecking order is brutal, effective, and cynical.