Solving the gender gap problem in Silicon Valley has just been made easy. So some might think.
To make holiday parties a little more eye-catching — while also masking the disparity between men and women working in tech — companies have found a solution: Hiring paid models. A “record number” of tech companies are paying between $50 and $200 per model to staff its parties and, well, make their staff look better and more interesting than they actually are, according to a new report from Bloomberg.
For an event this upcoming weekend, Cre8 modeling agency has 25 attractive women (and five men!) set to hang out with a San Francisco gaming company that’s “pretty much all men,” according to the report. The models are handpicked and have to sign nondisclosure agreements. And the saddest part — or funniest, depending on how you look at it — is the models are given the names of workers and told to “pretend” they’re friends.
“The companies don’t want their staff to be talking to someone and think, Oh, this person was hired to socialize with me,” Cre8 President Farnaz Kermaani told Bloomberg.
This growing trend spans from small startups to companies the size of Facebook. And business is booming, with Cre8 sending models to seven parties in the same weekend. Hiring models to check-in guests and grab coats isn’t new, but it’s starting to reach a new level: Chris Hanna, head of TSM Agency, told Bloomberg his models have been asked to dress up like the women on “The Price is Right,” and “forest nymphs” for a medieval theme.
So, Silicon Valley readers, as you enter prime holiday party season, keep in mind: If you see your engineering buddy drinking eggnog and yucking it up with a beautiful woman he’s never mentioned before, there’s a chance she’s being paid to stand there and smile.