Publicis Places Executive Kevin Roberts on Leave Following Controversial Gender Remarks

Author(s): Suzanne Vranica | Date: July 30, 2016 | Language: English
Source: Wall Street Journal | URL: | Type: text

Advertising giant Publicis Groupe has placed Kevin Roberts, one of its top lieutenants, on leave following comments he made that were dismissive of the raging debate over gender diversity on Madison Avenue.

In an interview with Business Insider published Friday, Mr. Roberts said the debate about gender equality is “over” and he doesn’t spend “any time” on the issue at his company. Mr. Roberts, who is currently executive chairman at Saatchi & Saatchi and head coach at the ad agency’s parent company Publicis Groupe, said the gender issue is “way worse” in industries such as financial services.

“We have a bunch of talented, creative females, but they reach a certain point in their careers … 10 years of experience, when we are ready to make them a creative director of a big piece of business, and I think we fail in two out of three of those choices because the executive involved said: ‘I don’t want to manage a piece of business and people, I want to keep doing the work,’ ” Mr. Roberts said during the interview.

Publicis Groupe Chief Executive Maurice Lévy condemned Mr. Roberts’s remarks.

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