KPN revises ‘women first’ policy to focus on ethnic minorities

Telecoms company KPN has dropped its policy of giving women priority in top jobs and is to focus more on staff from a minority background, jobs market magazine Intermediair says on Friday.

The company adopted the policy in 2009 under its then chairman Ad Scheepbouwer. Managers who did not put women forward for jobs had their bonuses cut.

However, KPN director Jasper Rynders told Intermediair the policy to ‘focus on women’ has appeared to disadvantage highly educated men with an ethnic minority background.

‘Given the speedy way Dutch society is changing, particularly in the big cities where KPN is active, this is an undesirable side effect,’ Rynders is quoted as saying.

‘We have been forced to chose from a limited group of women and all companies were fishing in the same pond,’ Rynders said. The company had expected women would bring other values, qualities and insights to the company, he said. 

However, ‘In terms of their behaviour and capacity, some of these women were very like the men who were already in the jobs, including their shortcomings.’

Intermediair says KPN has the most women in top jobs of the eight large telecoms firms operating in the Netherlands but there are currently no women on the management board since the resignation of chief finance officer Carla Smits-Nusteling.


There are just 13 women on the executive boards of the biggest Dutch listed companies, according to the latest edition of the Female Board Index, the Volkskrant said earlier this month.

The Netherlands is due to introduce a ‘legal target’ to ensure 30% of their management and supervisory boards are female by 2016. If firms don’t reach this, they will have to explain why and how they plan to improve the situation in their annual reports.

Intermediair said 28% of KPN’s supervisory board is female.

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