A report of Bay Area tech companies hiring models to act as guests at lavish holiday parties is raising concerns.
The Bloomberg report suggests that some Silicon Valley companies are hiring models from agencies like Cre8 Talent to act as guests. They’re paid up to $200 an hour to attend, and they'd have to sign non-disclosure agreements, the report said.
Some question if the trend is sending the wrong message, especially amid a national debate about sexual misconduct in the workplace that has brought to light the alleged abuse by men in positions of power in Hollywood, politics, businesses, news and elsewhere.
Female and male models are hired to liven up parties and help break the ice and encourage attendees out of their shells, according to a Cre8 Talent spokesperson. They aren’t paid to flirt, Cre8 told NBC Bay Area.
Cre8 Agency sent 25 women and 5 men, all good-looking, to hang out with "pretty much all men" who work for a large gaming company in San Francisco on Dec. 8, Cre8 President Farnaz Kermaani told Bloodberg.
Los Angeles-based Models in Tech, a company that allows people to hand select who they’d like to hire, usually get inquiries for hosts or presenters, CEO Olya Ischukova told NBC Bay Area.
Ischukova says her agency typically focuses on trade shows, including The International Consumer Electronics Show, where booths feature a type of brand ambassador and help with “check in, giveaways, raffles or some games.”
Models in her employ are not hired simply as guests at parties, but occasionally, Ischukova says the company receives some unusual requests.
"They required models to wear Pink Panther leather suits, so … we have to deny this request,” she said. "Because I politely explained this is not what we do."
Kym McNicholas, a journalist who has covered tech culture for 20 years, says she doesn’t think that hiring models for a party is anything new, but she believes it demonstrates impropriety.
"I know I shouldn't be shocked, but I am shocked simply because we've come a really long way this year in terms of really bringing to the forefront … the issues we have with diversity, acceptance and even sexual harassment," McNicholas said.