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Saatchi chairman put on leave after comments about gender equality

Kevin Roberts said that the debate about gender bias in the ad world “is all over”.

Image: Shutterstock/Lolostock

THE CHAIRMAN OF the Saatchi & Saatchi advertising agency has been put on leave after saying the debate on gender bias in the industry is “all over”.

Kevin Roberts made the comments in an interview with Business Insider, where he said that he doesn’t spend “any time” on supposed gender issues at his agencies.

He did say that one gender-related challenge at the company Saatchi is elevating female creatives into top roles.

I don’t think [the lack of women in leadership roles] is a problem. I’m just not worried about it because they are very happy, they’re very successful, and doing great work. I can’t talk about sexual discrimination because we’ve never had that problem, thank goodness.

Roberts is the head coach at Saatchi’s parent company Publicis Groupe. He told Business Insider that in his view, the debate on gender diversity doesn’t rage on within the advertising industry.

He also criticised Cindy Gallop for her comments about gender discrimination in the ad industry.

Roberts said that the debate on gender equality “is all over”.

This is a diverse world, we are in a world where we need, like we’ve never needed before, integration, collaboration, connectivity, and creativity … this will be reflected in the way the Groupe is.

Publicis put Roberts on leave following his comments.

After the publication of the interview, Publicis CEO Maurice Levy said: ”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.”

Promoting gender equality starts at the top and the Groupe will not tolerate anyone speaking for our organisation who does not value the importance of inclusion.

Roberts has been put on an immediate leave of absence and Publicis’s supervisory board will now decide on his future, the French group said in a statement that was also sent to employees.

Promoting gender equality starts at the top and the Groupe will not tolerate anyone speaking for our organization who does not value the importance of inclusion. Publicis Groupe works very hard to champion diversity and will continue to insist that each agency’s leadership be champions of both diversity and inclusion.

- Additional reporting AFP

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