Dutch news in brief, Thursday 25 June 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.No room for women at the top at ING
Women with top jobs at ING are leaving the company en masse because of the hard culture and lack of support, according to de Volkskrant. An internal report on why top professional women are leaving the banking and insurance company was suppressed by the Human Resources department, as the outcome threatened to damage the company's women-friendly image.
The report, in which 20 former female employees are interviewed, was commissioned by a group of female ING employees, because 100 of the 550 top women left the company between 2004 and 2006.
The image ING presents is a women-friendly one. In 2006, the company won an award for its efforts to promote women into top jobs. In 2008, ING won praise in the media for appointing job coaches for its female staff. However, since the economic crisis began, the coaching has stopped.
Last year, ING was one of the first companies to sign a charter for top female executives. But women on the work floor have noticed little change. "There is no interest in the people." One woman was even told that she was not sent on a particular job in France because she had children.
The report reveals that most of the women would have wanted to stay on at ING but saw no prospects for promotion. Women over 45 found that they had hit the glass ceiling. Only four percent women over 45 are top executives (compared to 41 percent of men in the same age group). Women found that they were judged on the fact that they were women and not on their capabilities, and that there was no room for criticism.
Holiday island produces sustainable energy
Trouw reports on a breakthrough for sustainable energy on the island of Ameland, off the northern Dutch coast. Researchers there from energy company Enerco and gas company Gasterra have successfully mixed gas and hydrogen and 14 households are now using the mixture for cooking and heating.
In the past 18 months, hydrogen has been gradually introduced into the mix. Now 15 percent of the mixture is hydrogen and, by the end of the summer, it's hoped this can be increased to 20 percent. By adding hydrogen, smaller amounts of greenhouse gasses are produced. The mixing of the gasses requires additional energy but this is generated by solar panels.
One of the home owners taking part in the project is pleased with the success: "I have children and grandchildren, I have to think of them." It also speeds up cooking; eggs are boiled in just a couple of minutes. The project is one of many initiatives on the holiday island, which hopes to achieve 100 percent sustainable energy by 2020.
How many bits of you are spread across the Netherlands?
This is the question nrc.next puts to its readers after it has emerged that bone, skin, cervical smears, placentas and other tissue—in fact, any bodily material that has ever been taken from you or me—could be kept for an eternity in a hospital archive to be used later. Usually, this is for the patient’s own good so that material can subsequently be used for a comparison.
Much of the material is eventually destroyed. Nevertheless, three out of four people in the Netherlands are not aware that parts of them could be used without their permission. A report presented by the Rethenau Institute advocates introducing legislation to cover this material so that, in the event that there is reason to use material from a hospital’s archives, there are rules and regulations governing its use.
The identification of the victims of the Enschede disaster in 2000, when a firework factory blew up in the middle of a housing estate, revealed how sensitive the matter is. Material from heel pricks taken at birth were used in some cases. But permission for keeping the material for so long had never been given and certainly not for use in identifying bodies.
The Rethenau report calls for a code of good practice including informed consent from patients. “Scientists have to be able to use the material with a clear conscience,” warned one of the authors of the report.
Government expense claims disappointingly sober
After the expenses scandal in the UK all but brought down the government, De Telegraaf has done its best to reveal improprieties among the Dutch ministers. Unfortunately for the mass-circulation paper, it hasn’t quite managed to come up trumps.
The worst excesses found were a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses for Finance Minister Wouter Bos to replace a pair he had lost at a meeting in Brussels costing EUR 113, an overnight stay in the Rotterdam Hotel New York for Minister Guusje ter Horst for EUR 200, EUR 90 for the hire of a tuxedo for a state banquet from Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Frank Heemskerk, and taxi journeys totalling EUR 240.85 by Development Minister Bert Koenders, after he gave his chauffeur time off.
The paper persists, trying another tactic. Credit card transactions were not made available, meaning that ministers could hide their indiscretions; bad for public confidence in the government’s integrity, the paper notes. Nevertheless, we can all take pride in our thrifty Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende: de Telegraaf couldn’t find a single expense claim in his name. Or does he have something to hide?
Vuvuzelas are coming our way
In spite of the flood of complaints at the public broadcasting station NOS last week because of the noise during the Confederations Cup matches, it looks like Dutch football supporters may be hearing vuvuzela concerts in their local stadiums soon.
Yes, the Dutch wouldn’t be Dutch if the trading instinct in them didn’t rise to the challenge. Amsterdam importer Ad Kuijper predicts the 61 centimetre long elephant horn will be “heard in just about all stadiums once the new season starts in a couple of month’s time.” And he should know, because he’s decided to import the irritating 130-decibel monotone horns, common at South African football matches.
A poll in de Telegraaf shows 70 percent of people want the instrument banned from stadiums. But they appear to be too late: the first consignment of 50,000 vuvuzelas is already being shipped from South Africa. And what colour they will be? Orange, natuurlijk!
Radio Netherlands / Nicola Chadwick / Expatica