The Nuclear Security Summit is in its second day in The Hague 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.
Why? Oh, tell us, do!
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.
Presumably any 25+ year old male waiting staff with platinum-hair had a regulation brunet (note the subtle vocabulary) rinse for the occasion. And none were “conspicuous”.
It gets worse!
In an attempt to clarify himself, van der Linde spoke to Radio 1 about keeping his female employees out of the plenary sessions. He denied ever mentioning hair colour, and told the station that he had initially come up with “the creative idea to only employ ladies to serve the world leaders, and to have them do that in little Delft Blue dresses.” His idea was apparently rejected by the ministry of Foreign Affairs, who made it clear that a more sober appearance would be appropriate. Van der Linde added: “We also have to go up a very steep flight of stairs, so little dresses wouldn’t be practical, as you wouldn’t be able to lift your legs high enough”.
Somewhere along the way this all became a Finbarr Saunders cartoon strip.