Saatchi & Saatchi chairman Kevin Roberts told Business Insider that the gender diversity debate is over.
The publication pointed out that all six holding company CEOs are male and that while 46.4 percent of the ad industry is female, only 11.5 percent of creative directors are (a number up from the 3 percent figure that gave The 3% Conference its name when it was created in 2010). When Business Insider suggested that the gender diversity debate continues in the industry, Roberts responded, “Not in my view.”
The publication brought up the 11.5% figure, as well as recent discrimination lawsuits, such as the one filed against former JWT CEO and chairman Gustavo Martinez by global chief communications officer Erin Johnson or the one alleging former RAPP CEO Alexei Orlov referred to various women as “fat cows” and declined to promote a female executive because she was “too pretty” (amongst other charges).
“Edward de Bono [Maltese physician, psychologist, and author] once told me there is no point in being brilliant at the wrong thing — the fucking debate is all over,” Roberts said. “This is a diverse world, we are in a world where we need, like we’ve never needed before, integration, collaboration, connectivity, and creativity … this will be reflected in the way the Groupe is.”
Publicis Groupe employs around 50 percent women, Saatchi & Saatchi around 65 percent.
When asked specifically about women like Cindy Gallop calling attention to ongoing gender issues in the industry, Roberts said, “I think she’s got problems that are of her own making. I think she’s making up a lot of the stuff to create a profile, and to take applause, and to get on a soap[box].”
Gallop responded by saying, “The best response to that is to throw it open to the industry, and ask the women and men of the ad industry, all around the world, to tweet at @krconnect to let him know whether they think I’m ‘making it all up’.”
Gallop has since tweeted about Roberts’ interview with a series of statements, including quoting a Facebook post from William Charnock, who said, “‘Issue is all over’ feels like a Donald Trump-ism – dismissive, insensitive, inaccurate.”
Plenty of other ad folks, meanwhile, have taken up Gallop’s call to tweet a piece of their mind at Roberts.