UK-based senior creatives Chase Bayfield and Dave Jenner have this week won their lawsuit against their former employer WPP-owned J. Walter Thompson for sex discrimination. Alarmingly, however, the underpinning issue of gender and inherent sexism in the industry, continue to be reflected in the responses to this case.
This week, Bayfield and Jenner won their unfair dismissal case against J. Walter Thompson, citing sex discrimination.
Judge Emery said: “We considered that this factor, their sex, was on the mind of [the company] when determining to dismiss them.”
Chase Mayfield and Dave Jenner can celebrate this victory, but J. Walter Thompson is still under fire. They continue to face sexism from the press regarding their female creative director Jo Wallace.
Wallace has been subjected to scrutiny throughout the court case with articles being published by The Daily Mail about her sexuality, (An headline referred to Wallace as, ‘Gay Female Director‘) her clothes and her alleged hatred of men. The Daily Mail published a photo of her in a bikini – not to accompany an article discussing swimsuit season – but the ongoing case at the time.
Seemingly unmonitored comment sections on these articles are filled with hateful comments directed at Wallace. Usually, they accuse her of hating men and getting Bayfield and Jenner fired. Wallace has also received death threats.
Ironically, Wallace is not responsible for the firing of Bayfield or Jenner.
Wallace was originally brought on board to tackle the gender disparity at J. Walter Thompson. She was hired as a female director after the firm revealed a median gender pay gap – of a significant 44.7 per cent.
The story continues that Wallace organised a diversity conference: The Mother Of All Change. The Guardian reported, she said: “One thing we all agree on is that the reputation JWT once earned – as being full of white, British, privileged [men] – has to be obliterated.”
Bayfield and Jenner expressed concerns about their job after the conference, after all, they were, white British and arguably privileged.
After both Bayfield and Jenner had a meeting with the company’s human resource director. They were allegedly found to be unsupportive of the new diversity drive at the agency. They were made redundant shortly after.
Bayfield and Jenner both took legal action against their ex-employers, citing sex discrimination, however, Bayfield has admitted it has made him feel, ‘awkward.’
Campaign, reported that Bayfield said: “I feel a bit awkward about it because the legislation was there to protect people who were really vulnerable – whether it was black people, gay people, other minorities.
“For it to be have to be used to protect white, British men, I can’t quite get my head around it. It tempers the joy of winning because there are a lot of people who aren’t winning in our world, still, and that’s what that legislation is there for.”
However, his discomfort did stop him from pursuing the case.
It is worth noting that Wallace did not attend the meeting, nor did she have anything to do with their dismissal.
Despite Wallace’s non-involvement in their redundancies, she has borne the brunt of media scrutiny. This, arguably, says a lot about gender discrimination.
Even after the court cases sentence was handed down, Wunderman Thompson, released a statement on Twitter, that read: “We would like to make clear that no claim was brought against Jo Wallace. She did not dismiss the claimants and was not involved in the redundancy decision-making process.
“We are shocked and appalled by the personal attacks aimed at Jo and condemn this behaviour. We ask that people treat Jo with respect and kindness.”
Wallace spoke with 4 News about the experience, Wallace said: “The rate of change, shouldn’t make men feel like they have a target on their back. In reality, at the current rate of change women will receive equal pay in at least a hundred years.
Wallace also admitted the media backlash has taken its toll: “I haven’t slept for several days, I’ve had death threats, I’ve been plastered all over the media in bikinis.”
Wallace has also now taken to Twitter to explain her side of the story.
In a pinned Twitter Thread, Wallace hits back at the Daily Mail for continually villainising her and failing to see the gender issues women are facing.
1/ It's time to address *that* ill-informed, factually incorrect, sexist, homophobic, racist, invasive, abusive piece of 'reporting' from the Daily Mail.
— Jo Wallace (@JoWallaceTweets) July 26, 2021
Sunita Gloster, CEO of Gloster Advisory, said: “If you want to understand the deep inequalities this story exposes for women in the industry, I’d direct you to read Jo Wallace’s 24 point statement on Twitter @jowallacetweets.
“Linger on the last one. If we keep letting women in our industry down, we won’t have an industry left.”
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