IPG CEO Michael Roth Condemns ‘Despicable’ Domestic Terrorism in All-Staff Memo

By Patrick Coffee 

Michael Roth addressed the disgusting act of domestic terrorism that occurred in Pittsburgh this Saturday in a memo sent to all IPG employees Monday afternoon.

In his note, the holding company CEO called these murders at the Tree of Life Synagogue “just another example of intolerance, hatred and despicable violence.”


Roth didn’t just mention the shooting that killed 11 innocent worshippers and left several more individuals critically wounded. He also brought up the pipe bombs allegedly sent to prominent political figures tied to the Democratic Party and a Kentucky man who reportedly made racially charged comments and attempted to enter a traditionally black church before fatally shooting two African American shoppers at a nearby supermarket last week.

This is not the first time Roth has directly addressed events that did not specifically concern the ad industry. In August 2017, he issued a statement about the Charlottesville, Virginia white supremacist “Unite the Right” gathering that left one dead. “This isn’t a partisan or political issue, it’s an issue of basic humanity, and standing up for what is right at a particularly difficult moment,” he wrote at the time.

Almost exactly one year ago, Roth also released a note promising “zero tolerance” for sexual harassment as the case of Harvey Weinstein continued to attract more attention. That same week, IPG’s The Martin Agency fired chief creative officer Joe Alexander, and multiple women later directly accused him of sexual harassment.

Today’s memo, in full:

This weekend’s horrific events at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh are just another example of intolerance, hatred and despicable violence. The news compounds other heinous acts that occurred last week when more than a dozen pipe bombs were sent to a former American president, vice president, and secretary of state as well as other current and former officials and private citizens who had spoken out publicly against the tenor of political discourse in the United States today. In addition, a man targeting Black Americans killed two at a grocery store in Kentucky. The lives that were senselessly lost remind us how important it is for each of us to respect one another’s differences and honor one another’s culture – in all aspects of our lives.

At IPG, we take diversity, equity and inclusion very seriously, and we are working every day to ensure that all of our employees feel comfortable bringing their authentic selves – and all of their dimensions of diversity – to work. It’s part of our value system, and these horrific events serve as a critical reminder that, despite the hatred that sadly exists in our world, our values should continue to inspire us and define us. This is not a political, partisan, or even religious issue, but rather one of humanity and respect for one another.

These incidents are powerful, painful reminders that we all need to ask ourselves both individually and as a community what we can do to stop this vicious cycle of inflammatory rhetoric and the violence it breeds. They also remind us of the very real concerns and emotional issues our colleagues bring to work every day. The colleague sitting next to you might be experiencing tremendous grief or identification with the groups who have been targeted or they may feel depressed or even frightened based on such events.

As several of our agency leaders commented during IPG’s recent Inclusion Awards programming, events in our world affect the way many of us feel, and it doesn’t necessarily stop when we leave home and come to work. To provide a forum for employees to discuss the events of the past weekend and related issues any of us needs to talk about, we are going to host another inclusion conference call soon; details will be sent shortly.

For now, please join your colleagues and send prayers and thoughts to the victims in Pittsburgh and Kentucky, their families, friends and neighbors. The assailant in Pittsburgh singled out HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. HIAS, whose mission is to “help the stranger, protect the refugee,” has helped millions of people around the world, not just people of the Jewish faith. Certainly, the organization’s motto is a philosophy that has helped this country represent the best of both democratic and human values, and can provide direction as we move forward together.

Michael Roth
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, IPG