Saatchi & Saatchi global chairman Kevin Roberts has been forced to take leave after claiming the debate on gender bias is “over”.
Roberts told Business Insider on Friday that he doesn’t spend “any time” on gender issues at his agency, saying the issue is “way worse” in the financial services sector, where there are “problems left, right, and centre”.
Furthermore, Roberts said many women fail to reach senior levels in the industry due to their lack of ambition.
“Their ambition is not a vertical ambition, it’s this intrinsic, circular ambition to be happy,” he told Business Insider.
“So they say: ‘We are not judging ourselves by those standards that you idiotic dinosaur-like men judge yourself by’. 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.”
Maurice Levy, CEO of Saatchi’s parent company, Publicis Groupe, revealed in a statement that Roberts has been asked to take a leave of absence as a result of his remarks, according to Business Insider.
“It will ultimately be the Publicis Groupe supervisory board’s duty to further evaluate his standing,” he said.
According to the statement, Roberts’ remarks do not uphold the no-tolerance policy towards behaviour or commentary in the “spirit of Publicis Groupe and its celebration of difference”.
“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,” the statement said.
“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.”