Citigroup was already in hot water, over a gender-discrimination suit last year. The banking giant, it may be noted, has a lot of women working for it, many in search of equal opportunity for advancement.
So good for Citi for recognizing, early, the dangers of turning to Ben Stein as a keynote speaker at an event that also featured Peter Orszag, the former White House budget director now serving as vice chairman at Citi’s investment bank.
Look, this isn’t a thing over Ben’s personality…. Okay, it is, in part. I’ve never figured out how someone who personifies boredom — the man picked to be the teacher in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” asking, “Anybody…., anybody…., anybody….” as the economics class nods off — could be so darned successful. He’s in ads (boring), TV shows like “Win Ben Stein’s Money” (even more boring). And he used to write about everything from economics, to White House speechwriting, to what he supposed interested women, in the pages of such august publications as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times (the first two topics), and Cosmopolitan (the third.)
But having Stein — known for his “women jokes” to elicit cringing laughter from audiences — keynote a bank-sponsored meeting? Please.
Still, let’s hear from Mr. Stein, who spoke to Bloomberg for its story — a story that noted that Stein has written for Bloomberg News, too. “Every one of those jokes are thoroughly vetted with my wife,” he said. He added, “I am super, super, super encouraging to women. I support an awful lot of women who are trying to make their way in the world.”
Congrats, Citi. You’ve managed your risk very well here.