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Saatchi chairman put on leave over sexism comments

Saatchi & Saatchi chairman Kevin Roberts is ‘on leave’ after telling the media he does not think the lack of women in leadership roles “is a problem” in the advertising industry © AFP/File / Patrick Kovarik

PARIS, Jul 31 – French advertising giant Publicis put the chairman of its Saatchi & Saatchi advertising agency on leave on Saturday, after he said the debate on gender bias in the industry was “all over”.

Saatchi & Saatchi executive chairman Kevin Roberts told the Business Insider he did not think the lack of women in leadership roles “is a problem” in the advertising industry.

“It is for the gravity of these statements that Kevin Roberts has been asked to take a leave of absence from Publicis Groupe effective immediately,” Publicis CEO Maurice Levy said.

“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.”

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 a statement that was also sent to employees.

In the interview, published on Friday, Roberts 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.

“I can’t talk about sexual discrimination because we’ve never had that problem, thank goodness.”

Publicis is a multinational company based in Paris which employs some 80,000 people worldwide.

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