Here's a shocking thought: rich guys who belong to private clubs are not the most progressive folks when it comes to being open to societal change. As an example, check out this video from Bloomberg that offers a rare look into the Automobile Club de France. The 126-year-old institution still doesn't allow women to be members, and the group's 74-year-old president has no intention of changing that.
Automobile Club de France occupies a massive building on the famous Place de la Concorde in Paris. Inside, there's a library, auditorium dining rooms, a bar, rooftop terrace, and a swimming pool.
The club has around 2,000 members with an average age slightly below 55. According to Bloomberg, a majority of the members are not affiliated with the auto industry. Although, some of the folks who are in the car business are very powerful like Renault CEO Luca de Meo and Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares.
Technically, there isn't a rule barring women from membership, but two existing members would have to back a woman wanting to join. This seems very unlikely. "I feel like three quarters of our roughly 2,000 members don’t want this to change, and I’m too democratic to impose something they don’t want. We have other opportunities to meet women in Paris," Automobile Club de France President Louis Desanges told Bloomberg.
The wives of members have limited access to the club, including the ability to borrow books from the library and have lunch with friends. However, they can't enter some areas like the swimming pool.
The Automobile Club de France has no official powers within the French automotive world, but there are clearly lobbying powers by having so many rich and powerful people in the industry rubbing shoulders. For example, Desanges is trying to make vintage cars exempt from the future emissions rules that could potentially ban them from driving in French cities, according to Bloomberg.