Following the comments made by Saatchi & Saatchi Executive Chairman and Publicis Groupe Head Coach, Kevin Roberts, in a recent interview with publication Business Insider, and the social media backlash that ensued, Mr 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.
Publicis Groupe Chairman & CEO, Maurice Lévy addressed a statement internally to all Publicis Groupe employees to reiterate the Groupe’s no-tolerance policy towards behavior or commentary counter to the spirit of Publicis Groupe and its celebration of difference as captured in the motto Viva la Difference.
“Diversity and inclusion are business imperatives on which Publicis Groupe will not negotiate. While fostering a work environment that is inclusive of all talent is a collective responsibility, it is leadership’s job to nurture the career aspirations and goals of all our talent. 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,” Publicis said in an official statement.
This is the second high profiled exit from an advertising agency in the year following Gustavo Martinez’ departure from J. Walter Thompson earlier in the year on the basis of gender biased comments.
Mr Roberts had commented in Business Insider that the gender debate in advertising was over. The comment had attracted severe social media backlash from the likes of Wendy Clark of DDB and Pepsi’s Brad Jakeman.