The advertising business is male-dominated, though much less so than in its heyday, the 1950s and ‘60s. Contributions by Peggy and Joan notwithstanding, they didn’t call the TV series “Mad Men and a Few Women” or “Mad Persons.”
A survey by a gender diversity group found that in 2014, women held 46.4% of advertising agency jobs, yet accounted for only 11.5% of creative directors. Longtime ad poobah Kevin Roberts attempted to explain this to Business Insider: “We have a bunch of talented, creative females, but they reach a certain point in their careers … 10 years of experience, when we are ready to make them a creative director of a big piece of business, and I think we fail in two out of three of those choices because the [female] executive involved said: ‘I don’t want to manage a piece of business and people, I want to keep doing the work.’ ”
Mr. Roberts, whose title at agency holding company Publicis Groupe is head coach, said the debate over gender equality is “over” and he doesn’t spend “any time” on the issue. He noted the gender issue is “way worse” in industries like financial services. This orange cat will also point out that at a point when many women are experienced enough for command, they hear their biological clock ticking and opt for parenthood.
The story appeared online Friday. Over the weekend, Mr. Roberts became a victim of the PC police, internal affairs division, forced to take a leave of absence. “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,” sniffed the Publicis CEO in a statement.
Mr. Roberts, in addition to his former duties at the holding company, was executive chairman at a subsidiary, Saatchi & Saatchi. That unit has two women in key executive positions, global chief creative officer and president of the New York office. Almost two-thirds of the staffers are female. The largest clients are Toyota, Procter & Gamble and General Mills.
Hmmm … Toyota. Wonder if Jan had anything to do with this? Behind that cute face could lurk a backstabber.
[Update: Mr. Roberts turned in his resignation Tuesday.]