Kevin Roberts, the former executive chairman of advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicis Groupe head coach, returns to the industry as the chairman of the London-based communication agency Beattie Group.
He resigned from his former job at Saatchi & Saatchi in August last year, following the uproar caused by his gender bias comments in an interview with Business Insider.
In the interview, Roberts declared the gender diversity debate in the advertising industry to be “over” and that people arguing about gender bias are “debating an issue that isn’t really there”. He stated that many women tend not to have ambitions to become a C-suite executive, but instead are content with doing great work at another level.
His comments drew controversies in the industry, and Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy released a statement saying the comments were “unacceptable,” shortly after the interview was published, as well as Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Robert Senior, who said Roberts’ views were not the position of the agency.
Roberts resigned in August a few days after he was asked to take a leave of absence, ending a 20-year career with the advertising group. In his statement for resignation, Roberts apologised for the offense he had caused during the “miscommunication”.
“What I meant was we should stop debating it and stop talking about numbers and start doing something about it,” he explained in an interview with New Zealand broadcaster TVNZ last month. “I was tired, fatigued in the middle of interview number four and was not at my best.”
According to Stuff, Roberts has joined a New Zealand cricket app company called CricHQ as chairman since then, in which he has also made a “seven-figure” investment.
Now that he is with Beattie, Roberts will be tasked with coaching the senior Beattie team and helping the 30-year-old company grow internationally.
In a press release, Beattie Group CEO Laurna Woods said, “We are delighted to have recruited one of the world’s most inspirational business minds to help us expand in the UK, North America and Australasia.”