Saatchi chief Roberts to step down amid sexist remarks furore

Executive chairman of Publicis-owned advertising firm falls on his sword after being put on leave following comments deemed to be insulting to women.

The Saatchi & Saatchi executive Kevin Roberts  will resign from the company following what many described as sexist remarks in an interview at the weekend. Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images
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The French advertising giant Publicis said Kevin Roberts, the chairman of its Saatchi & Saatchi business, would resign on September 1 after the veteran advertising boss said some women lacked “vertical ambition”.

Mr Roberts, the British-born executive, sparked a sexism row after he was quoted in an interview as saying that he does not spend any time on gender issues as the gender diversity debate was over in the advertising world.

“The supervisory board and the chairman and chief executive of Publicis Groupe took note of Kevin Robert’s decision to step down with effect from September 1, prior to his retirement date due in May 2017,” Publicis said.

Publicis had this week asked Mr Roberts to take an immediate leave of absence as the group did not tolerate “anyone speaking for our organization who does not value the importance of inclusion”.

In an interview with the Business Insider website, Mr Roberts said that some women at key junctures in their careers did not want to lead businesses and people, and that managers should reflect on how to deal with the ambitions of female and male employees who “simply want to be happy and do great work”.

“Their ambition is not a vertical ambition, it’s this intrinsic, circular ambition to be happy,” Mr Roberts was quoted as saying by Business Insider.

“So they say: ‘We are not judging ourselves by those standards that you idiotic dinosaur-like men judge yourself by’.

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