Behind-The-Scenes: Fox Business’ Liz Claman Explains How Women Are Changing The Face Of Davos
8:30 am, January 24th | by Amy Tennery
Liz Claman is the anchor of Fox Business’ “Countdown to the Closing Bell” and is reporting at the legendary World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, beginning this Wednesday. Claman will stay busy this week at the massive global financial conference, with a roster of more than 30 interviewees, including some of the most notable names in business.
We talked with Claman to get the behind-the-scenes dirt on Davos, including which CEO makes everyone jealous (it’s not who you’d think). We also got the scoop on the women leaders making waves at WEF — and why some are facing a backlash.
The Jane Dough: You’ve been covering Davos for while now — what are you most looking forward to this year?
Liz Claman: Davos is like shooting the rarest, most brilliant-colored fish in a single barrel. You have world leaders, company leaders, the most important business leaders on the planet and they converge on this tiny Swiss Alpine village. So for me, to have all those people in a small area, is a journalist’s dream.
TJD: With the European markets the way they are right now do you anticipate a sense of agitation or even fear at the conference?
LC: What’s happening in Europe is historic. It’s not necessarily comfortable or calming — it’s worrisome, and terrifying for at least some of the participants. For me, that leaves everything open to really important questions. For example, we’re going to be speaking to Bob Diamond, who runs Barclays… his company just came out with a survey that said one in four people surveyed don’t believe the Euro zone will survive.
TJD: How do you make this event seem relevant to your average person, who maybe isn’t an economic or financial wonk?
LC: I don’t use this as an opportunity to grab an Eric Schmidt of Google and say “How much cash do you have on your balance sheet?” What matters when it comes to talking to someone like him is “What’s happening globally that’s preventing you from hiring or expanding?” if you are not hiring or expanding. My job is to make all that’s happening in that tiny Swiss village relevant to our viewers.
TJD: Have you noticed the number of women covering Davos has changed? Or do you still feel that women are outnumbered in terms of news coverage?
LC: I would argue that the media world has been way ahead when it comes to women getting their hand into the story. The issue I think for the World Economic Forum is how are you going to get more women to participate on panels? They recently instituted a quota. Personally, I’m not so big on quotas. I feel that everything should be run on a meritocracy.
Now, the problem they were finding was companies that bought into the forum were picking and choosing — and they were ending up with 10 middle aged white guys [attending]. The guy who runs WEF was saying, “You know what, I don’t think that’s how we want this to be.” We need it to be a little more reflective of half the world — women. And he started to say you had to have a certain number of your contingent be female. So two years ago, you saw a slight bump up to 16 percent. [Then] they instituted the quota last year and it bumped up to 17 percent.
TJD: A whole one percent.
LC: A whole one percent! Four years earlier it was only at 9 percent. So you’ve seen a somewhat significant jump.
TJD: Are you anticipating a backlash the longer the quota is instituted?
LC: I heard from some companies that rolled their eyes. And thought “This is going to make our lives more difficult.” But then other companies said, “I actually think that it’s good because we never really thought about it.”
TJD: Who are you most excited to interview?
LC: I have never been bored talking to Eric Schmidt of Google. I love it because other CEOs are so jealous of him. He is so smart and has such interesting ideas.
TJD: What kind of behind-the-scenes stuff goes on at Davos that you think people would never expect?
LC: It’s hilarious to see everyone star-struck. Last year, the chef of Red Rooster, Marcus Samuelson, was there. CEOs of major global banks were stumbling over each other to get to him to say hello.
And everyone has the same complaint: Their lodging.
LC: “Oh my hotel room is so small; it’s so far! Oh what a pain; oh they didn’t plow the road up to my hotel.” We pile on top of each other. [For] our crew, I think it’s two bedrooms and there are six of us. We don’t even care. We go and we figure out a way and it’s hilarious.
(This interview has been edited and condensed.)