South Africa Cell C chief apologises after saying gorgeous women are good for workplace morale

Said hiring a greater number of clever and good-looking women has “created a different environment” at his company

CELL C Pty Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Jose Dos Santos said he regrets his choice of words after telling a South African radio station that women can be more aggressive in the workplace than men and that the mobile-phone company hires attractive female interns to boost morale.

“I regret my choice of words, which I realise were offensive,” Dos Santos said in e-mailed comments on Tuesday. “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.”

Dos Santos, who has been head of South Africa’s third-biggest mobile-phone company since 2013, was responding to criticism on social media networks to an interview he gave to Johannesburg-based radio station CliffCentral on the subject of leadership. 

Among his comments, the CEO said hiring a greater number of clever and good-looking women has “created a different environment” at the company than when he arrived. After adding that he’d like to be succeeded as CEO by a woman, he made the reference to women being more aggressive in arguments between themselves than two men.

“The value of women’s impact in the economic environment cannot be symbolised by her look,” Madelein Mkunu, president of Leading Women of Africa, a gender-development organisation, said in e-mailed comments. “This is just means the value of a woman remains undermined by their male counterparts. This needs to change.”

Hiring attractive women as interns, including contestants of the Miss South Africa beauty pageant, encourages male workers to shave and dress better, Dos Santos told the radio station. Cell C, majority-owned by Dubai-based Oger Telecom Ltd., is one of the main sponsors of the competition.


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