Saatchi chairman Kevin Roberts has fallen on his sword. In a brief statement. Saatchi’s parent company Publicis Groupe has confirmed Roberts has resigned.
“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 said.
The announcement comes just days after Publicis placed him on leave in the wake of controversial remarks he made suggesting that the ad industry’s gender diversity debate is over.
Roberts also issued a statement offering an apology. “‘Fail fast, fix fast, learn fast’ is a leadership maxim I advocate,” he said. “When discussing with Business Insider evolving career priorities and new ways of work/life integration, I failed exceptionally fast.
“My miscommunication on a number of points has caused upset and offence, and for this I am sorry. I have inadvertently embarrassed Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicis Groupe, two companies I love and have been devoted to for almost 20 years.”
“I have expressed my regret and apology to the companies for the furor my remarks and language stimulated, and I extend this to colleagues, staff and clients,” Roberts said.
In an interview with Business Insider, Roberts said the “fucking debate is all over” when asked about the gender diversity in the ad industry. He also suggested women were happy to stay in middle management roles rather than go for the top job.
Over the weekend, Publicis Groupe chairman and CEO Maurice Lévy issued a statement announcing Mr. Roberts would be put on leave and saying that “Promoting gender equality starts at the top and the Groupe will not tolerate anyone speaking for our organization who does not value the importance of inclusion.”
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