Sophie Ryan is online editor for the Business Herald

My Food Bag appears to stand by Kevin Roberts

My Food Bag co-founders, from left, Nadia Lim, Theresa Gattung and Cecilia Robinson.
My Food Bag co-founders, from left, Nadia Lim, Theresa Gattung and Cecilia Robinson.

My Food Bag appears to be standing by its chairman Kevin Roberts after he was put on leave by Saatchi & Saatchi for his controversial comments about gender diversity.

Roberts is on leave from his position as chairman of the global advertising company after he told the Business Insider he did not spend any time on gender issues at his agencies at all, and that the issue was "way worse in sectors like financial services", where there are "problems left, right and centre".

When the publication remarked how the gender diversity debate raged on within the advertising industry he responded with: "Not in my view."

Roberts was appointed chairman of the Australasian food delivery service My Food Bag in March 2015 and joined his former Telecom colleague Theresa Gattung in the company.

When asked for comment in response to Roberts' interview in Business Insider, My Food Bag co-founder and co-CEO Cecilia Robinson didn't mention the controversy.

Instead, Robinson drew attention to the company's commitment to female leadership.

"There are many women on our senior leadership team with a 60:40 female to male split across the business," Robinson said.

"In addition to this, My Food Bag has an all-female finance team. Our staff are employed based on competency, not gender."

My Food Bag announced a paid parental leave scheme this year that doubles the government's 18 weeks and provides and option for an additional 60 per cent of salary to be allocated to a spouse or partner whether that be mum or dad.

It was "business as usual" for the company, Robinson said.

Institute of Directors chief executive Simon Arcus said worldwide statistics show gender diversity remains a problem for the marketing industry.

Arcus said it was "risky" for men to speak for and generalise the ambitions of women, which Roberts did in the interview.

Arcus said Publicis Groupe's move to put Roberts on leave showed the groundswell the pro-diversity movement had generated.

It showed Roberts' comments were "given great weight and taken very seriously", but Arcus said he didn't want this to be the end of the controversy.

"This shouldn't be the end of it, this should be the start of a discussion and it should be an educative process for everyone."

- NZ Herald

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