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Saatchi Chairman Kevin Roberts forced to go on leave over sexist comment

Publicis CEO Maurice Levy takes a hard stance on the issue, says 'promoting gender equality starts at the top and the Groupe will not tolerate anyone who does not value the importance of inclusion'

Saatchi Chairman Kevin Roberts forced to go on leave over sexist comment

Publicis CEO Maurice Levy takes a hard stance on the issue, says “promoting gender equality starts at the top and the Groupe will not tolerate anyone who does not value the importance of inclusion"

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | August 1, 2016

Kevin Roberts Kevin Roberts

French advertising giant PublicisGroupeput the Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, Kevin Roberts, on leave on Saturday, after he said the debate on gender bias in the industry was "all over".Roberts had told the Business Insider in an interview that he did not think the lack of women in leadership roles "is a problem" in the advertising industry.

Maurice-Levy Maurice Levy

"It is for the gravity of these statements that Kevin Roberts has been asked to take a leave of absence from PublicisGroupe 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," Publicis CEO Maurice Levy said in a statement.

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 the statement that was also sent to employees.

Saatchi's global CEO has also released a statement in opposition to Roberts' comments and emphasizing the agency's commitment to diversity.

In the interview, published on Friday, Roberts had said the "debate is all over" about gender diversity in the advertising industry."I'm just not worried about it because they (women) are very happy, they're very successful, and doing great work," he said.

Roberts also said, "I can't talk about sexual discrimination because we've never had that problem, thank goodness.”

Like many other industries worldwide, the advertising industry also has not achieved gender parity in its leadership roles. The CEOs of all the six major advertising agency holding company are men. According to a survey in 2014, women make up 46.4 per cent of the advertising industry, but only 11.5 per cent of creative directors in ad agencies are female.

Women's campaigners like advertising consultant Cindy Gallop tweeted: “Sexual harassment is endemic in the media, advertising and every industry.”

It may be recalled that in March this year, J. Walter Thompson’s Global CEO Gustavo Martinez had to step down following a suit filed by the agency’s Chief Communications Officer Erin Johnson charging Martinez with sexual harassment and routinely making racist and sexist slurs within the agency’s offices and other public venues in front of numerous witnesses and even on tape.

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