Saatchi boss resigns after saying women ‘lack ambition’

He claims the lack of women in senior professional roles was ‘not a problem’


Kevin Roberts, the chairman of the world’s most famous advertising agency Saatchi, was suspended last night amid claims of misogyny and sexism after claiming that women lack “vertical ambition” and that the lack of women in senior positions was “not a problem”.

In a candid interview with Business Insider Roberts, 66, said: “The debate about gender bias is all over.”

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Kevin Roberts

As women presumably rejoiced across the world, revelling in their new found Saatchi-sanctioned equality, Roberts continued: “We have a bunch of talented, creative females, but they reach a certain point in their careers, when we are ready to make them a creative director of a big piece of business, but they say ‘I don’t want to manage a piece of business and people.”

The Saatchi boss believes that women aren’t progressing professionally as much as men simply because they’re happy as they are. Instead, strangely, he thinks it’s wrong for “dinosaur-like men” to try to make women conform to “Darwinian urges of wealth, power and fame”.

The married grandfather said: “We are trying to impose our antiquated shit on them, and they are going: ‘Actually guys, you’re missing the point, you don’t understand: I’m way happier than you.’

“Their ambition is not a vertical ambition, it’s this intrinsic, circular ambition to be happy. So they say: ‘We are not judging ourselves by those standards that you idiotic dinosaur-like men judge yourself by’. I don’t think (the lack of women in leadership roles) is a problem. I’m just not worried about it because they are very happy, they’re very successful, and doing great work.”

The words 'nothing is impossible' are engraved outside Saatchi's London office

The words ‘nothing is impossible’ are engraved outside Saatchi’s London office

In the wake of the bizarre comments – which coincide with the news that though women make up 47 per cent of the industry, 89 per cent of the industry’s creative directors are men – Mr Roberts was placed on leave by Publicis Groupe, Saatchi and Saatchi’s parent company, who were also forced to send out a letter to their staff re-affirming their policy on gender inclusion.

A statement from the firm said: “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.

“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.”

Update: Kevin Roberts announced on Wednesday that he would resign from his role. In a statement Publicis Group said: “The Supervisory Board and the chairman and chief executive of Publicis Groupe took note of Kevin Roberts decision to step down with effect from September 1 2016, prior to his retirement date due in May 2017.”