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Gentlemen's club bowing to pressure to include women

The 160-year-old Swedish-speaking gentlemen’s club Handelsgillet may be changing its rules to admit women members.

Handelsgillets offentliga diskussionstillfälle i Helsingfors.
Handelsgillet members Image: Lukas Rusk / Yle

The exclusive club may be backtracking its decision from earlier this week to maintain its males-only status, following a firestorm in Swedish-language media outlets.

The tide within the business and networking organisation seems to have turned after former club chair Bror Krause came out in favour of possibly changing the group's charter to include female members.

”I’ve discussed the matter with a few of my friends and they also seem to agree that the time is ripe to discuss the issue [of women] members," he told Yle.

Krause was a longtime chairman of the organisation and presided over the decision in 2003 to exclude women. Krause says the decision was made at the time to 'keep membership from growing too large.' Prior to 2003, the club’s charter did not explicitly restrict membership to men, though historically, only men have been members.

Boys clubs losing popularity?

Earlier this year another posh gentlemen's club, the Helsinki Bourse Club, became the target of criticism after the chairman of telecom company DNA Pertti Korhonen resigned from the ultra-exclusive crowd, citing the group's misogyny as his motive for leaving.

The Bourse Club has also come under criticism for controversial statements, such as "equality doesn't need to happen everywhere."

Last year, the club's landlord, the Finnish Foundation for Share Promotion (Finnish name Pörssisäätiö), announced it was reviewing the terms of the club's tenancy, citing that "investing is for everyone."

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