Comments like Kevin Roberts' "absolve any responsibility on the part of the employer"by Jessica Abrahams / August 5, 2016 / Leave a comment
This week it was announced that the Chairman of one of the world’s leading advertising agencies will resign over comments he made about the representation of women in the upper echelons of business. In an interview with Business Insider last week, Kevin Roberts, Executive Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, had denied that sex discrimination is a problem in the advertising industry, arguing that if women are absent from managerial positions it is only because the wise creatures are increasingly shunning high-flying careers in favour of different standards of success.
The “Darwinian urges of wealth, power and fame” do not resonate with millenials, he said. “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 [lower down the ranks] they are very happy, they’re very successful, and doing great work”—and that is all they want.
Parent company Publicis announced that Roberts had been asked to take a leave of absence soon after the comments were published, and he has now resigned.
The views Roberts expressed are worrying from someone in a position of leadership. He veered into particularly troubling territory when asked about the experiences of Cindy Gallop, an advertising consultant who has been vocal about the effects of bias against women in the industry and elsewhere. Roberts suggested she might be “making up a lot of the stuff” as a way of self-promotion.
Yet he is not alone in believing that women are no longer prioritising career success in the traditional sense. Just a couple of weeks ago, women’s magazine Grazia published an article entitled “The rise of the happiness hunters,” based on interviews with women who had ditched established careers or opportunities for promotion in order to seek other sources of fulfilment—travelling, creative outlets or the pleasures of a freelance lifestyle. “Smart, successful women are increasingly walking out on lucrative careers to pursue their dreams,” the article ran.
There is something of a consensus emerging that the current generation of would-be yuppies—university-educated…