Married. And what then?
There was considerable social pressure in the predominantly catholic south of the country. Factory work was associated with loose morals, and the church was determined to prevent that. Women and men did, however, work in separate parts of the factories, partly because they performed different tasks. There were quite a lot of couples who first met at Philips.
Right up until the late 1960s it was normal for women to leave the company – or even to be made redundant – once they got married. At this time Philips set up special departments for married women in some of its factories. There was a shortage on the labor market and married women were welcomed with open arms. This was very fortunate for those women who did not want to have to stop working.
The wife of…
The women at Philips didn’t only work in the factories for light bulbs, radio tubes and radios, some of them had office jobs. For example, women with an advanced secondary education qualification worked as secretaries, as correspondents, in administrative roles or in the sales department.
The wives of Philips founders Gerard and Anton Philips were also closely involved in the company, for example as serious discussion partners in business decisions, but they were also independently active in social initiatives.
Johanna Philips-Van der Willigen and her husband Gerard set up a study fund, the Philips-Van der Willigen fund, for example, which enabled tens of thousands of employees’ children to undertake further education. And Anna Philips–de Jongh, Anton Philips’ wife, held a prominent position within the Philips community for over seventy years.
More women at the top
It’s now 2021 and nearly a quarter of senior managers at Philips are women. That’s great, but we can still do better. With its many programs to promote diversity and inclusion, Philips is confident that within a few years at least thirty percent of leadership roles will be held by women.
Philips is also striving to create an inclusive work environment where people can perform at their best, simply because they are allowed to be themselves.