Kevin Roberts, Saatchi & Saatchi executive chairman and Publicis Groupe head coach has been asked to take a leave of absence.
This follows gender biased comments made in a Business Insider interview which sparked outrage online. In the interview, Roberts declared the gender diversity debate in the advertising industry to be “over” and that people arguing about gender bias are “debating an issue that isn’t really there”.
He stated that many women tend not to have ambitions to become a C-suite executive, but instead are content with doing great work at another level. He also took aim at advertising consultant and veteran Cindy Gallop, who is known to speak out about the gender diversity issue in the industry.
Publicis Groupe chairman & CEO, Maurice Lévy addressed a statement internally to all Publicis Groupe employees to reiterate the Groupe’s no-tolerance policy towards to such behaviour or commentary.
“It is for the gravity of these statements that Kevin Roberts has been asked to take a leave of absence from Publicis Groupe effective immediately. As a member of The Directoire, it will ultimately be the Publicis Groupe Supervisory Board’s duty to further evaluate his standing. Diversity & inclusion are business imperatives on which Publicis Groupe will not negotiate,” the press statement read.
Some of the Twitter reactions garnered has come from C-suite level women such as Wendy Clark, CEO of DDB North America. Meanwhile, chief marketing officer of Airbnb Jonathan Mildenhall and even Brad Jakeman, president of global beverage group Pepsico also slammed the statement.