Publicis Groupe has announced the resignation of Saatchi & Saatchi executive chairman Kevin Roberts, having been placed on leave earlier in the week following his comments on gender diversity causing offence.
A statement released by Publicis Groupe said that the supervisory board and chairman and chief executive officer Maurice Levy had taken note of his decision to step down, with effect from 1 September. Roberts had been scheduled to retire in May 2017.
Roberts had told Business Insider that he did not spend “any time” on the gender diversity debate at the company, and went on to criticise women’s rights campaigner Cindy Gallop as having “problems that are of her own making”.
Publicis Groupe and Saatchi & Saatchi were both quick to denounce Roberts’ comments, and emphasise the importance of gender diversity within the agency and wider network.
“Kevin (Roberts) has given what are his personal views on the subject of gender diversity. However, those views are not mine, and nor are they the position of the agency,” said Saatchi & Saatchi worldwide chief executive officer Robert Senior.
“Saatchi & Saatchi is, and has always been, a meritocracy. We live and die by our people, our talent, and it makes no difference to us whether that talent is male or female. Indeed, I’m very proud to be able to say that 65 per cent of our staff are female, and it is to our great benefit that we have women in senior leadership roles across our business.”
Senior added that he feels the issue of gender diversity is not in any way over for the industry.
“It is live, emotive and vital for the communications business that we continue to insist that the best people, whatever their gender, are able to achieve their potential,” he continued. “This is what we strive for at Saatchi & Saatchi, and is what we will continue to strive for alongside all of the best agencies in our industry.”