It's been one faux pas after another in the industry that seems to have moved on little from the world of the TV series Mad Men.

First the Kiwi chairman of Saatchi and Saatchi, one of the world's biggest agencies, was stood down over sexist comments about women lacking the ambition to make it to the top.

Now Sydney agency Banjo Advertising has gone into damage control over a disastrous job interview that left a Sri Lankan-born account director shocked and offended.

In an astonishing lapse of judgment, a senior executive told Surungi Emily Hohol the agency would not be suitable for the role as they already had two other "Indian" staffers.


"Direct quote: 'The client might be alarmed by having three brown skin people attend a meeting'," Ms Hohol wrote on Facebook.

"Seriously what is wrong with people ... I'm livid and seriously irritated by this."

Banjo chief executive Andrew Varasdi called an emergency office meeting this morning, and met personally with the candidate to discuss the matter.

The agency maintains that the executive's "light hearted" comment was misinterpreted by Ms Hohol, who was in fact being strongly considered for the position.

The exec, who has not been named, was not disciplined for the remarks but had been "counselled" and was "deeply upset by the incident".

"In the course of expanding the account management team at Banjo, an unfortunate misunderstanding has occurred during an interview with a candidate, for which Banjo would like to offer an unreserved apology," Mr Varasdi said in a statement.

"The senior staff member, who conducted what was a very positive interview, made a casual remark at the end of the interview, which was intended to set the person at ease. Unfortunately it was taken out of context and has since gained some notoriety on social media.

"There has been a lot of media attention on the issue of equality - including race, gender and sexual orientation, and age - in recent times and we acknowledge that emotions can run high."

The statement said that Banjo had a record of hiring from a diverse pool of talent and employed staff of "all ages, genders and ethnicities", and that women held half of its senior management positions.

"We couldn't possibly deliver on our promise that our clients come first, if our own staff did not reflect the Australian community," Mr Vasasdi said.

"We are extremely proud of the make up of our talented staff, which is reflective of the diversity of Australia. We hope that we will be judged on our record, and that all candidates who consider joining us at Banjo will do so too."