Saatchi chairman on leave over gender comments

The New Zealand chairman of the global advertising giant Saatchi and Saatchi, Kevin Roberts, has been put on leave after saying that gender bias in advertising business does not exist.

Mr Roberts has told the online newspaper Business Insider, he does not spend time on gender issues at his agencies and said that the debate was over.

But his employer, Publicis Groupe, has asked him to take a leave of absence immediately because his comments do not match its promotion of gender equality.

In the interview, published on Friday, Mr Roberts said the “debate is all over” about gender diversity in the advertising industry.

He goes on to say that rather than holding ambitions to progress into the higher echelons of management, many women – and men – simply want to be happy and “do great work”.

He adds: “…they are going: ‘Actually guys, you’re missing the point, you don’t understand: I’m way happier than you.’ Their ambition is not a vertical ambition, it’s this intrinsic, circular ambition to be happy.

“So they say: ‘We are not judging ourselves by those standards that you idiotic dinosaur-like men judge yourself by’. I don’t think [the lack of women in leadership roles] is a problem.

“I’m just not worried about it because they are very happy, they’re very successful, and doing great work. I can’t talk about sexual discrimination because we’ve never had that problem, thank goodness.”

Auckland advertising consultant Mike Hutcheson worked with Mr Roberts during his time at…

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