Cell C boss responds to ‘bitch-switch’ comment

José dos Santos
José dos Santos

Johannesburg - Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos, who caused an uproar on social media over his controversial remarks on women during an interview, said his comments were taken "out of context".

The chief executive officer of South Africa’s third largest mobile network Cell C said in an interview on internet radio station CliffCentral’s Leadership Platform segment that women have a ‘bitch-switch’.

Read:  Cell C CEO: Women have a ‘bitch-switch’

“If I can use the term on the radio station, women do have a bitch-switch and, boy, if you see two women fighting, it’s worse than two men having an argument,” he said.

In the interview, Dos Santos spoke about how Cell C’s representation of women among its staff has increased from around 40% to over 60% since he joined the company in 2012. He also mentioned that some of the mobile network's top engineers are women.

However, the way he spoke about female representation at Cell C was brought into question.

Reacting to the social media storm around his comments, Dos Santos late on Tuesday defended said his stance on women.

"The comment I made, when asked about women empowerment was part of a broader interview about leadership on CliffCentral. I regret my choice of words which I realise were offensive," he said.

"I mentioned that in my experience, I have seen instances where women do not support each other to get to the top. This has purely been my observation and perhaps one of several reasons why women are underrepresented in leadership positions.

"This is not an environment that was created by women, but one that has been entrenched in the general workplace. And that is why I have put a lot of effort and focus into the empowerment of all employees, but particularly women at Cell C," Dos Santos said.

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