Cell C top women managers defend CEO in sexism row

Top women managers at South African operator Cell C have defended CEO Jose Dos Santos after complaints on social media at comments he made in an online radio station in a recent interview. According to a company statement, they agree that Dos Santos' comments were inappropriate, but said the contribution he has made to empower his staff is far bigger than the error he made on 19 April. Dos Santos came under particular fire for using the term "bitch-switch" and for remarks about female employees, with many social media users lambasting him as sexist.

In the interview with Cliff Central, Dos Santos said: “Women do have a bitch-switch and, boy, if you see two women fighting, it's worse than two men having an argument." In the interview, he said that Cell C hires participants in the Miss South Africa contest, offering them twelve-month internships.

Cell C women managers have now come to his defence. Dos Santos said Cell C had done a lot to ensure that women were empowered in the company and that women had created a different organisational dynamic. A spokeswoman for the company said the statement was signed by 40 women managers who met to discuss the situation.

The women managers said that the public outrage Dos Santos is facing for his “regrettable” choice of words has far outweighed what he has done for every employee in this company, particularly women.

The managers said they believe in themselves collectively as a team of highly skilled and highly capable women and are rightly recognised as such in Cell C. They said they have all had far more opportunities to shine and be their best under his leadership. If this was not the case, they said they would not be there.