Kevin Roberts resigns from Saatchi amid gender spat

Kevin Roberts has resigned in the wake of his comments that gender bias did not exist in advertising. Photo / File
Kevin Roberts has resigned in the wake of his comments that gender bias did not exist in advertising. Photo / File

Saatchi and Saatchi boss Kevin Roberts has resigned following a controversial interview that gave rise to a gender discrimination row.

The Kiwi advertising guru told the Business Insider gender bias did not exist in advertising and he spent little time on it.

Today, the company's parent group, Publicis, announced his resignation and said he'd be stepping down from the post in September.

"The Supervisory Board and the Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe took note of Kevin Robert's decision to step down with effect from September 1st 2016, prior to his retirement date due in May 2017," the statement read.

The decision follows just days after the chairman was put on leave for the comments which upset his employer.

Chief executive Maurice Levy said the company had a no-tolerance approach "towards behaviour or commentary counter to the spirit of Publicis Group and its celebration of difference..."

He added: "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."

In a statement to NBR Kevin Roberts offered his apologies and said to help everyone move on he'd decided to bring forward his retirement from May 1, 2017 to September 1, this year.

"When discussing with Business Insider, evolving career priorities and new ways of work/life integration, I failed exceptionally fast."

He said his "miscommunication" on a number of points caused offence for this he was "sorry".

"I have inadvertently embarrassed Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicis Grouope, two companies I love and have been devoted to for almost 20 years."

Roberts said he'd expressed his regret and apologies to the two companies and extended this to his colleagues, other staff and clients.

He said the situation had given him and others a lot to reflect on.

"Within the thousands of tweets, comments and articles there are many powerful and passionate contributions on the changing nature of the workplace, the work we do, what success really looks like, and what companies must do to provide women and men the optimal frameworks in which to flourish.

"I believe that new thinking, frameworks and measures are needed to make more rapid progress on diversity in all its forms, in all professions and occupations.

"Hopefully the focus, on this serious and complex issue will gather momentum."

- NZ Herald

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