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Kevin Roberts, Saatchi & Saatchi’s Chairman hit the headlines recently, causing a social media uproar over his dismissive comments that sexism in other sectors was far worse than it was in the advertising industry, together with his opinion that many women are simply not interested in having or being in leadership roles.

Advertising is one of a long line of industries which has been plagued by sexist comments, closely followed by sport and media, as seen earlier this year with high profile cases involving Eva Caneiro and also Everton Football Club.

Similar to countless other industries, advertising has not yet reached gender equality in its leadership roles, which was put to Mr Roberts, leading to the controversial comments.

The comments, which were made during an interview with Business Insider, alluded to the fact that all six of the leading advertising agency holding companies’ Chief Executives are men. It also referred to a 2014 survey that found that while females account for 46.4 per cent of the advertising industry and merely 11.5 per cent of Creative Directors at advertising agencies are women.

A statement from Publicis Groupe, the parent company of Saatchi & Saatchi, said that Roberts will step down on 1 September, “prior to his retirement date in May 2017”. The Head of Publicis, Maurice Levy, condemned the comments made by Mr Roberts, saying the remarks were contrary to the company’s ethos of “Vive la Difference” and that the company would “not tolerate anyone speaking for our organization who does not value the importance of inclusion.”

Mr. Roberts apologized to colleagues, staff, clients and his company for the comments. “My miscommunication on a number of points has caused upset and offense, and for this I am sorry,” he said.

Danielle Ayres, specialist sex discrimination lawyer here at Gorvins pointed out that sex discrimination in the workplace can occur in many different forms whether directly or indirectly. She said “In the 21st Century, comments such as these should not be tolerated, hence the public’s reaction to Mr Roberts’ comments.  Sadly it appears that many feel that this behaviour is acceptable.”

She continued to say “If you have been the subject of any discriminatory remarks whilst at work, whether by your peers or members of management, you should seek legal advice to see whether the person making the comments, has overstepped the mark.”

If you are experiencing discrimination at work of any form it is important to seek legal advice early to find out what the best course of action to take is. Call Danielle today on 0161 930 5117 or e-mail employmentteam@gorvins.com