Saatchi & Saatchi’s Kevin Roberts Steps Down After Gender Statement

Saatchi & Saatchi’s Kevin Roberts Steps Down After Gender Statement

Saatchi & Saatchi’s global chairman Kevin Roberts has stepped down from his spot at the top, following a major gender diversity debate in which Roberts claimed women failed to reach senior levels due to “lack of ambition”.

Hannah Edensor
Posted by Hannah Edensor

On Monday, Roberts was temporarily suspended, pending review, by Saatchi’s parent company Publicis Groupe, saying it didn’t tolerate “anyone speaking for our organisation who does not value the importance of inclusion”.

“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.

Roberts apologised for the offence cause, admitting he had “inadvertently embarrassed Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicise Groupe, two companies I love and have been devoted to for almost 20 years”, per a story in The Oz.

Following his statements, Roberts conceded that he “failed exceptionally fast”.

“‘Fail Fast, Fix Fast, Learn Fast’ is a leadership maxim I advocate,” Robert said in a statement after stepping down from the Publicis-owned agency. “I failed exceptionally fast.”

Roberts had made comments in an interview with Business Insider on Friday that suggest women fail to reach senior levels in the industry due to their lack of ambition and that gender inequality is far more prevalent in the financial services sector than the advertising sector.

“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.”