‘Bitch-switch’ saga: Cell C women defend CEO

José dos Santos
José dos Santos

Johannesburg - A female management team at Cell C has come out in support of its chief executive officer after he made controversial comments about women in a radio interview.

Chief executive of the mobile network, Jose Dos Santos, came under fire on Tuesday for how he spoke about female staff at Cell C on internet radio station CliffCentral.

Dos Santos, in the in the interview, spoke about how Cell C’s women staff has increased from around 40% to over 60% since he joined the company in 2012.

But some of his comments about women in the interview have come under the spotlight.

“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,” Dos Santos said in the interview.

Dos Santos also came under fire over other comments he made such as men’s reaction to Miss South Africa participants being offered internships at the company.

“Do you know what it does to the atmosphere in that company, the men dress better, they shave every morning,” said Dos Santos.

Social media website Twitter subsequently exploded with criticism of the CEO as the term ‘Cell C CEO’ trended into Tuesday evening.

What are your thoughts on the controversy surrounding the Cell C CEO's comments and what do you think about the company's women staff coming out in support of him? Tell us by clicking here. 

Top female team defend Dos Santos

However, Cell C on Wednesday released a press statement on behalf of top female management at the company defending Dos Santos.

“As the top female management team of Cell C, we agree that his choice of words on a specific matter was not appropriate,” said the statement.

“However, what we know is that the public outrage he is facing for that regrettable choice of words has far outweighed what he has done for every employee in this company, particularly women,” said the women.

The statement doesn’t list any names of the female management team but it tries to paint a picture of a workplace where women are respected.

“We believe in ourselves collectively as a team of highly-skilled and highly-capable women and we are rightly recognised as such in this company. What we know is that we have all had far more opportunities to shine and be our best under his leadership. If this was not the case, we would not be here,” said the statement.

“Too often people stand by and allow things to happen to good people; and while we know we might face some criticism for our decision to stand beside our CEO; we as women in leadership positions at Cell C cannot allow someone to be solely judged for one unfortunate comment, while what he has done to empower women, both within and outside the company, goes unnoticed,” reads the statement.

Finally, the statement ends off by saying the top female management of Cell C are “empowered and stand fully in support of our CEO”.

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