Davos Newbies Home

I’d like to claim that Davos is a classless society, but it isn’t. Here’s an initial guide to the gradations of Davos society, which is colour coded.

White badges
All full-fledged participants have white badges. Your badge is what enables you to signup for sessions, to get into the Congress Centre and even ride free on the Davos town buses. Everyone wants to have a white badge.

There are several types of white badge, but all of them get the best treatment in Davos. In addition to the plain white badges that most business and public figure participants have, there are media leader and GLT badges, as well as some other subgroups. I’ve been asked whether it’s good to be a media leader. My answer is a resounding yes, since you get everything everyone else gets, plus a special media leaders programme, which is excellent.

Spouses of white-badge participants also get a white badge, but it visually slightly different.

Orange badges
Uh oh. I wish I could be reassuring about your orange badge, but it does serve slightly as a mark of Cain in Davos. The so-called working media have orange badges: the reporters and film crews that have to file daily. They can’t signup, they can’t go to sessions over lunch or dinner, and they are only allowed into interactive sessions in the Congress Centre on a space available basis.

When I first went to Davos eight years ago, it was undoubtedly worse. Then, there were very, very few orange badges allowed, and most of them were to the kind of people who now get white badges (editors, senior columnists, etc). The media were barely tolerated. Now nearly one out of three people in Davos is media. There is some talk of proving the “working media” with an orange T-shirt as a souvenir: it would say, “I had an orange badge, but at least I was there.”

Dark blue badges
Permanent World Economic Forum staff. If you see a dark blue badge, the person should be able to provide you whatever assistance or information you need. A handful of dark blue badges also have a blue top (rather than white). These are the senior executives of the Forum.

Light blue badges
Temporary staff. Given the scale of Davos, the Forum brings in large numbers of people to help just for the event. Light blue badges should be good sources of assistance as well.

Green badges
Accompanying persons. There are very few of these granted, but the most senior politicians and a true handful of CEOs get green badge accompanying persons. Other than scurrying around, green badges have no privileges.

There are more colours for security and some other services. Just be glad if you have a white badge.

4 thoughts on “Davos Newbies Home

  1. John Newton

    Actually, participants with full privileges had a white badge with a blue stripe on the bottom. The blue stripe was required to get into the workshops which were 2+ hour brainstorming and solution sessions on the world problems. Spouses had white badges with no stripe and could not attend the workshops.

    I wonder what color badge Sharon Stone had? đŸ˜‰

  2. Lance Knobel

    John, it shows some of the inertia of an institution like the World Economic Forum that my post, from seven years ago, still serves as a reasonably accurate guide to the badge gradations.

    The best badge to have in my day, incidentally, was a white badge with a sparkly hologram-like circle on the holder. These were necessary for admission to the private meetings of top economic ministers.

  3. John Newton

    Somebody passed this on and I didn’t even look at the date, so it is still very relevant.

    What might be different now is that the badges contain an RFID and you need to flash it in front of a monitor that will display the person’s face.

    Are you still going?

  4. Lance Knobel

    Alas, no. I attended every Davos between 1993 and 2002. So a very good run. Haven’t been back yet.

    In the “old” days monitors showed the person’s face as well. I don’t know if it was an early use of RFID or some other technology.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *