Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos wants a woman to take over his position at the company when he steps down, stating that the mobile operator currently employs many “good-looking women and clever women” in senior positions.
Dos Santos explained his stance on empowering women in the workplace during a recent interview on CliffCentral’s Leadership Platform.
He said African women have a higher tolerance level than men, something he noticed while working for Vodacom in Mozambique.
When Dos Santos came to Cell C after working for Vodacom, he said there were few female-empowerment initiatives at the company – and he promised to change that.
Women have a “bitch switch”
Dos Santos said Cell C’s staff complement currently sits at over 60% female, with many women at a senior executive or management level in the company.
“We have good-looking women, we have clever women, we have smart women, and that has created a different environment,” said Dos Santos.
“I think we have to empower the female individuals. Today a lot of women are independent.”
He stated that Cell C’s next CEO should be a woman.
“I’m hoping that one day when I step down from Cell C, a woman will be the CEO of the company. They have a different way of managing, they have a different way of engaging in meetings, it creates a different dynamic,” he said.
“If I can use the term on your radio station, you know women do have a bitch switch, and boy if you see two women fighting it is worse than two men.”
Miss South Africa interns
Dos Santos said Cell C – which sponsors the Miss South Africa pageant – also offers all Miss SA finalist an internship for a year at the company to assist them in gaining work experience.
“It brought a whole different atmosphere. Can you imagine you got 12 gorgeous women and you say four or five of them walk into your company – do you know what it does to the atmosphere in that company? The men dress better, they shave every morning.”
Dos Santos said the Miss SA contestants who stay at Cell C after their internships are hardworking and loyal, and make valuable contributions to the company.
Taken out of context
Dos Santos released a statement following the interview, saying that his views on female employees were taken out of context.
“As a CEO with a strong track record in the empowerment of female employees, in South Africa and in many other African countries that I have worked in, I am saddened that my stance has been taken out of context,” said Dos Santos.
“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.”