Transcript and Translation of the Most Absurd Interview with CEO of Dell Denmark on Misogyny

Way back when, as the Dell backlash started, Christiane Vejlø (“Host”) who wrote the tweets and blog post that got the snowball rolling, she did an interview on her podcast with the CEO of Dell, Nicolai Moresco (“Dell”). She was joined by another guest, Dorte Toft (“Toft”), a female blogger and commentator on all things tech, and Morten Bay (“Bay”), a guy in tech who’s often used as a commentator.

The interview is from April 22 (begins at 15:36, ends at 25:00), but I found the clueless and waffling responses from Dell’s Danish representative to be so offensively daft that I think people who don’t understand Danish need to hear it as well. So I have taken it upon myself to transcribe the interview and translate it.

One of the frustrating things about the interview is that the host and guests fail to take the guy to task for all the bullshit that has been said, and how the Dell Denmark CEO persists to stonewall on what is an egregious act of corporate incompetence and failure to recognize blatant misogynist statements.

At first, I intended to comment on the interview in excerpts following the whole translation, but upon revisiting the audio a few days later, when I decided to transcribe and translate it, everything in it is quoteable. At no point does Nicolai Moresco on behalf of Dell acknowledge that the moderator’s speech and the choice of hiring him were wrong, and throughout the entire interview, he babbles on how the whole affair has started an “interesting” discussion … that Dell consistently fails to learn anything from.

I couldn’t help myself from a few footnote remarks to mock Dell and explain some of the people and things that are mentioned, but other than that, the only note is that I have italized weird, corporate, Danglish buzzwords in the Danish transcript, and put them in “quotes” in the English translation. Otherwise, the odd verbiage of Dell Denmark’s CEO won’t be as apparent, as it should be. If the English translation sounds like complete gibberish, when Moresco talks, it is because it is—in Danish. That is actually him waffling and buzzwording, and a reflection of how my transcription and translation don’t rephrase and polish what he says to something else; the blathering corporate madness is something I wanted to retain and display in all its absurdity. People don’t sound like Thespians in an informal Danish podcast—especially when one of the guests is dancing an awkward dance to handle a nuclear PR disaster.

Now, on to the interview.

  1. Translated interview (English)
  2. Original interview transcript (Danish)

Translated Interview (English)

Host: We have CEO of Dell (“Denmark”, ed.), Nicolai Moresco (“Dell”, ed.), on the phone, and I have talked with him frequently throughout the week. And welcome to you, Nicolai.

Dell: Thanks.

Host: Dell has chosen Mads Christensen as moderator at this big event where your founder, Michael Dell, was present. And Mads Christensen talks and entertains in a somewhat, what you might call, I think it’s fair to say, rough tone; I don’t think that’s completely wrong to say.

But he also entertains about the relationship between women and men, and in this context, he brings up something about how it’s good, he says, that there aren’t more women in the IT business, and that they should keep it like that, and such.

Can you understand that I, who occupy myself with women’s relationship with technology, is sitting in the room and thinks that this might be a slightly odd choice of moderator for such an event that might already be struggling a little with machismo?

Dell: I can see where you’re coming from. I think the choice of Mads Christensen was an expression of how we wanted some energy and humour in an otherwise fairly heavy agenda. And the things he said, Tuesday, we’ve also said since that maybe it wasn’t everyone who found that funny, and both he and Dell have apologized for that. And it was intended more as satire than anything else and all that Mads said was something that he himself stands for.

What we learned from this is perhaps that we should have been clearer in the “brief” to Mads about what we really wanted him to do for entertainment. And I can only agree with Dorte Toft that this has backfired, which we didn’t predict, and then we have to learn from that. But, at the same time, this raises an important debate; it is interesting to follow the “online forum” currently where there are both positive, negative, and many different points of view. It also means that we are having the dialogue we’re having today, which is extremely important for our industry.

Host: You talk about how the choice of this moderator was because you wanted a lighter and entertaining speaker and someone who could stir things up, but why do you think the choice ended up being a speaker who is known for these controversial opinions that previously have been in crossfires with some of the statements he makes?

Dell: Of course, looking back at the choice of Mads Christensen, it’s obviously arguably whether that was the right one. The point of choosing him to us had nothing to do with what the debate has actually evolved into; it was rather to infuse some energy into an agenda in a segment of 15 minutes on an otherwise long and good day with plenty of satisfied customers. And that it goes on to evolve in this way, that’s deeply regrettable, then. But we had also invited Rytteriet1 in the evening, and that’s to get a kind of mix in the agenda. That’s more what we were about.

Host: Dorte Toft?

Toft: Now, I haven’t heard Rytteriet, but I think that when I see them on TV, there is a certain affection in their (satirical, ed.) depictions. But what you are talking about, the debate online, I have followed that; for example, I looked at the Elektronista blog, as the events initially unfolded. There you saw a lot of young men—a lot of younger men—who stepped up and actually tell Dell, you, that this was a misstep. Afterwards, we get the totally usual reaction over here with “Uhm, but that’s just you women who need a sense of humour, and you are prudish, and you don’t understand this and that, and you overanalyze, and get a grip and show that you are capable of actually doing anything”. And that’s the funny, in quotes, kind of debate that is prominent now, and that is something … I mean, to me, real men … those aren’t people who are afraid of a development where strong women emerge. Real men, those are people who take threats as a challenge to perform better, and the business is filled with men like that.

Then there are some in the entertainment business, and to some degree in the universities, who have almost made it their platform to talk about those terrifying women, and the male losers, and all that, but that’s basically a parenthesis—I have no impression that the industry is sitting around terrified with their trousers around their ankles and thinking to themselves “Oh no, the women are coming to take over everything”.

Host: Nicolai Moresco, is the real man who Dorte Toft talks about represented in what we see at your event with Mads Christensen?

Dell: No, I don’t think so … it’s difficult to characterize the types of people present. I think all types are represented in gatherings of 800 people like this, and I think all opinions are represented in those gatherings, too.

And I definitely believe that women and girls in generel have a role in our industry. And I think you bring a lot of value, both to our company, but also in many other areas in our industry. And I think women in general are doing a great. But I also think that we, as Dorte Toft … says, miss some role models that they can see themselves in and feel attracted to in the industry. That’s why it’s great that we have her book2 with which I also think she helps promote some role models that can be used to encourage more women to apply to our industry.

Host: Could you perhaps have chosen someone who was, you might say, a slightly better role model than the one you had chosen for the event?

Dell: With the benefit of hindsight, you could probably have done that. I mean, we had never expected that this was the debate that would emerge from this ordeal. So you could have definitely done that, and I think that we are acknowledging that—we have to make a mental note of that, then. But at the same time, I think what what I am doing now, as I said before, we are having this debate, and we should continue doing that. Yes.

Bay: Nicolai, I would like to ask you: what demands are there from your American parent organisation with regards to both what you have to signal in terms of diversity, but also gender equality, and in relation to what kind of PR initiatives you are allowed to use, and which “spokespersons” you can use?

Dell: Yes, I mean, it’s an assessment we do for the countries individually, what “spokespersons” we can use; we haven’t had particular “guidance” for that, and that’s where we have to base our decision on the intent, and how it fits into the local culture. But as for your other question regarding our gender equality etc., we have clear guidelines that state that we must have a certain number of women on a management level and mid-management level, as well as generally in the organisation, and it’s good to see in Denmark as an example that more than 30% of our employees are women, and that’s also what we see in the management.

Bay: So are you expecting any trouble from the the U.S. on this?

Dell: It’s clear that, as we are seeing now, what we have done in Denmark in the context of this is that it may have been an untraditional “approach”, as you mention in the beginning of this, that this would never happen in the U.S. We have taken a slightly different “approach” that we think is better suited for the dynamics of Denmark, regarding whom we have invited to our conferences—that goes for both Mads Christensen, and also Rytteriet. And we think you are able to do that in Denmark, but the way the mood has been accelerated in Denmark, well, the debate, it’s clear that we have been in the position of answering of questions, from the United States, too.

Host: Nicolai Moresco, can one expect that Dell is simply heading in the direction where satire, irony, and provocation are going to be a part of your brand here in Denmark, perhaps?

Dell: No, I wouldn’t say that—that’s taking it too far—but we have an opinion about this3, and that’s why we actively participate to be represented in different places to help encourage women to apply to the industry. We have our global, what’s the name, “Consumer Marketing” director Anja Monrad who is vice-president in the IT industry’s committee of female leaders. We have different “forums”, both at the office where we work with women and (social, ed.) networks, and that’s where we express our opinions4. There are also many other interesting areas beside this specific area where we are encouraging, so we have an opinion on many things that again are supposed to be reflected in our brand. But that we should get out there and be “opinion leaders”5 in an area like that, that’s not something we have in mind6; but we’d love take part in the debate, and that’s also why I want to talk to you today.

Host: Nicolai Moresco, CEO of Dell Danmark, thanks for being on Elektronista today to talk a little about this on-going debate. It’s good to bring up the debate—I think we can all agree on that.

(She then goes on to talk about how they lost the connection to NM prematurely, before he could make his final remarks and sign off, and she could give him a proper send-off.)

Original Interview Transcript (Danish)

Host: Vi har også direktør fra Dell, Nicolai Moresco (“Dell”, ed.), på telefonen, og ham har jeg snakket en del med i ugens løb. Og velkommen til dig, Nicolai.

Dell: Tak skal du ha’.

Host: Dell har valgt Mads Christensen som moderator på det her store arrangement, hvor også jeres grundlægger, Michael Dell, var til stede. Og Mads Christensen taler jo og underholder også i en lidt sådan, kunne man godt, man kan vidst godt sige, det er en sådan lidt grov form; det tror jeg ikke er helt skævt at sige.

Men han underholder altså om forholdet mellem kvinder og mænd, og i denne her sammenhæng trækker han jo også noget frem omkring, at det er godt, siger han, at der ikke er flere kvinder i IT-branchen, og det skal de holde fast på, og sådan noget.

Kan du forstå, at jeg, som beskæftiger mig en del med kvinders forhold til teknologi, sidder i salen og synes, at det her er måske lidt mærkeligt valg af moderator til sådan et arrangement, hvor der måske i forvejen bliver kæmpet lidt med mandehørm?

Dell: Jeg kan godt se, hvor du kommer fra. Jeg tror, valget af Mads Christensen var jo mere et udtryk for, at vi forsøgte at få lidt energi og lidt humor ind i en ellers forholdsvist tung agenda. Og de ting, som han fik sagt, tirsdag, det har vi så også efterfølgende sagt, at det var måske ikke lige alle, der syntes, at det var lige sjovt, og det har både han og Dell også beklaget. Og det var jo mere tænkt som satire end noget andet, og alt dét, Mads han sagde, det er jo noget, han selv står for.

Dét, vi så har lært af dét her, det er måske, at at vi skulle have været skarpere i briefet til Mads omkring, hvad er det egentligt vi ønsker, at han skal underholde med. Og jeg kan kun være enig med Dorte Toft i, at det her har givet et bagslag, som vi ikke forudså, og dét må vi jo lære af. Men samtidig så rejser det jo også en interessant debat; det er jo interessant at følge onlineforummet i øjeblikket, hvor der både er positive og negative og mange forskellige synspunkter. Det gør jo også, at vi har den her dialog i dag, som er ekstremt vigtig for vores branche.

Host: Du snakker om, at valget af denne her moderator, det var jo også, fordi I ville have en lidt let og lidt underholdende taler og én, som kunne sætte lidt spræl i det, men hvorfor tror du så, valget faldt på en taler, som er kendt for de her sådan kontroversielle holdninger, som før har været lidt i krydsild med nogle af de meldinger, han kommer ud med?

Dell: Jeg synes selvfølgelig valget af Mads Christensen, når vi ser tilbage på det, det kan selvfølgelig diskuteres, om dét så var det rigtige. Formålet med valget af ham for os havde intet at gøre med dét, som debatten egentligt har udviklet sig til; det var mere at få noget energi ind i en agenda i et indslag på 15 minutter på en ellers lang og god dag med rigtigt mange tilfredse kunder. Og at det så udvikler sig på denne her måde, det er jo så dybt beklageligt. Men vi havde jo også inviteret Rytteriet om aftenen, og det er jo ligesom for at få et mix i agendaen. Det er mere dér vi kommer fra.

Host: Dorte Toft?

Toft: Nu har jeg selvfølgelig ikke hørt Rytteriet, men jeg synes, at når jeg ser dem i TV’et, så er der en vis kærlighed i deres skildringer. Men dét, du snakker om, debatten derude på nettet, dén har jeg også fulgt; jeg så blandt andet på Elektronista-bloggen i starten. Der var der en masse unge mænd—eller en masse yngre mænd—der melder sig og faktisk siger til Dell, til jer, at det dér, det var simpelthen en smutter. Derefter får vi så den helt vante herhjemme med “Øeh, men det er bare jer kvinder, der mangler humor, og I er snerpede, og I har ikke forstand på dét og dét, og I overfortolker og tag jer nu sammen og vis, at I kan noget”. Og dét er den der morsomme, i situationstegn (sic), morsomme debatform, der er lige nu, og dét er et eller andet … altså for mig, der er rigtige mænd … det er jo ikke nogle, der er bange for en udvikling, hvor der kommer stærke kvinder. Rigtige mænd, det er jo nogle, der tager trusler som udfordring til at præstere bedre, og erhvervslivet er fyldt med dén slags mænd.

Så har vi så nogle i underholdningsbranchen og til dels på universiteterne, der har gjort det til nærmest deres platform at snakke om de der skrækkelige kvinder og tabermænd og sådan noget, men det er grundlæggende set en parentes—jeg har ingen opfattelse af, at erhvervslivet de sidder og er skræmt med bukser nede omkring anklerne og siger “Uh, nu kommer kvinderne og tager det hele.”

Host: Nicolai Moresco, er det den rigtige mandetype, som Dorte Toft her taler om, som bliver repræsenteret i dét, vi ser, til jeres arrangement med Mads Christensen?

Dell: Nej, det tror jeg ikke … det er svært at karakterisere hvilke, typer der er tilstede der. Jeg tror, alle er repræsenteret i sådan en sammensætning på 800 mennesker, og jeg tror også, alle holdninger er repræsenteret i sådan en sammensætning.

Og jeg mener bestemt, at kvinder og piger i det hele taget har meget at gøre i vores industri. Og jeg tror, I bringer en masse værdi ind i dét, der både i forbindelse med vores virksomhed men også i mange andre områder inden for vores industri. Og jeg synes, kvinder generelt gør det rigtigt godt. Men jeg tror også, at vi, som Dorte Toft … er inde på, måske mangler nogle rollemodeller, som de kan spejle sig i og føle sig tiltrukket af i industrien. Så er det jo også godt med hendes bog, hvor jeg også mener, hun er også med til at ligesom fremhæve nogle rollemodeller, som kan være med til at opfordre flere kvinder til at søge ind i vores industri.

Host: Kunne man måske have valgt én, der så var, kan man sige, en næsten lidt bedre rollemodel, end I så havde valgt på arrangementet?

Dell: Når man er i bagklogskabens ulideligt klare lys, så kunne man jo sikkert godt have gjort det. Altså vi havde jo aldrig forventet, at det var denne her debat, der ville komme ud af denne her seance. Så det kunne man sagtens have gjort, og det synes jeg også, vi anerkender—dét må vi jo så tage til efterretning. Men jeg synes også samtidigt, at, det gør jeg også nu, som jeg sagde før, vi har den her debat, og dét skal vi fortsætte med. Ja.

Bay: Nicolai, jeg kunne godt tænke mig at spørge dig: Hvad ligger der af krav fra din amerikanske moderorganisation i forbindelse med både, hvad I skal signalere i forhold til diversitet eller også for dén sags skyld også kønsligestilling, og i forhold til hvad for nogle PR-initiativer I kan tillade jer at have på, og hvad for nogle spokespersons I kan bruge?

Dell: Ja, altså, det er jo en vurdering, som vi laver for de enkelte lande, hvilke nogle spokespersons vi kan bruge; der har vi jo ikke sådan særlig guidance for dét, og dér må vi tage udgangspunkt i formålet, og også hvordan det passer ind i den lokale kultur. Men på dit andet spørgsmål omkring vores kønsfordeling og så videre, der har vi en klar retningslinje om, at vi skal have et vis antal kvinder i både ledelsesniveau og på mellemlederniveau, også generelt i organisationen, og der er det jo godt at se i Danmark for eksempel, at vi har mere end 30% af vores ansatte er kvinder, og det også er dét, vi ser i ledelsen.

Bay: Så forventer du noget ballade fra USA på det her?

Dell: Det er jo klart, at det, som vi også ser sker nu, det, vi har gjort i Danmark i forbindelse med det her, det er, at dét har måske været en utraditionel approach, som du også selv er inde på i begyndelsen af det her, at det her ville aldrig kunne ske i USA. Vi har taget en lidt anden approach, som vi synes passer bedre ind dynamikken i Danmark, omkring hvem vi har inviteret til at deltage på vores konferencer—det gælder jo både Mads Christensen, og det gælder også for Rytteriet. Og dét mener vi godt, at man kan bære i Danmark, men dén måde, som stemningen er blevet accelereret i Danmark, jamen, debatten, så er det klart, at så har vi jo fået lov til at svare på nogle spørgsmål, også fra USA.

Host: Nicolai Moresco, kan man så forvente, at Dell simpelthen er på vej i sådan en retning af, hvor satire, ironi og provokation sådan markante udmeldinger kommer til at blive en del af jeres brand her i Danmark måske?

Dell: Nej, dét vil jeg ikke sige—det er nok at trække det for langt—men vi har en holdning til det her, og det er også derfor, vi aktivt deltager i at være repræsenterede de forskellige steder for at være med til at opfordre kvinder til at søge ind til branchen. Vi har jo vores globale, hvad er det, det hedder, Consumer Marketings-direktør Anja Monrad, som er næstformand i IT-branchens udvalg for kvindelige ledere. Vi har forskellige forums både på kontoret, hvor vi arbejder med kvinder og netværk, og dét er jo dér, hvor vi lader vores holdning til kende. Der er også mange andre interessante områder uden for præcis det her specifikke område, at vi engagerer, så vi har en holdning til mange ting, som så igen skal afspejles i vores brand. Men at vi skal ud at være opinion leaders på områder som sådan et, det har vi ikke tænkt os, men vi tager gerne del i debatten, og det er også derfor, jeg gerne vil snakke med jer i dag.

Host: Nicolai Moresco, administrerende direktør i Dell Danmark, tusind tak fordi du var med i dag i Elektronista og snakkede lidt om den her debat, der er. Det er jo godt at få debatten på dagsordenen, det kan vi vel allesammen være enige om.

(Taler om at forbindelsen til NM røg lige vel hurtigt fra deres side, inden han kunne takke af, og hun kunne sige ordentligt farvel.)

  1. A Danish sketch show. Videos on YouTube. Some of it is satire

  2. Lykkelig i Nørdland (Happy in Nerd Land). A book that, as far as I can see, has personal accounts of women’s interesting forays in technology. 

  3. Still waiting for it. 

  4. “My best friends are black.” 

  5. This guy uses the weirdest fucking corporate buzzwords. 

  6. “We aren’t going to defend women’s rights to be treated with respect, unless we find a way to tokenize female employees to spruce up our corporate brand.”