The Nuclear Security Summit is taking place in The Hague today and tomorrow, and has brought leaders from 53 countries together to discuss ways of combating nuclear terrorism. The catering company responsible for feeding the leaders and delegates has made a controversial staffing decision: No female serving staff are working in the plenary room where the main talks are being held. Instead, only men over 25 have been given the privilege of serving the working lunches at the World Forum.
You’d expect outrage, wouldn’t you? Well, there was a bit of a Twitterstorm but that’s it. No anguished columns in CiF, none of the usual suspects rallying their troops.
And when the questions were asked, the answers were…well. Not very convincing, to say the least:
According to Dutch national newspaper the Algemeen Dagblad, the director of the catering company, Hans van der Linde, was looking to create a “uniform” look amongst his staff. They quote him justifying his decision in the following manner: “If 20 gentlemen are serving and three platinum blonde ladies, then that spoils the image.
“The personnel needs to act in as reserved a manner as possible, and you can’t achieve that by adding a couple of pretty, conspicuous ladies to the mix,” he added.
Ummm, Hans, it’s 2014.
Of course, there may well be another reason:
In addition to the desire for uniformity, there may be other factors at play, says Jean-Paul Weijers, director of the Protocolbureau that is also involved in the summit. He believes that the decision for all-male staff within the main meeting area could be an attempt to prevent the world leaders from getting distracted.
“Everything is taken into consideration when organising such an important gathering. That includes things like this.”
In addition, he says that the fact that there are world leaders from the Muslim world present may have influenced the decision making.
You don’t say..!?!