By Kunjila Mascillamani
Isn’t it odd how often men filled with good intentions decide to give career advice to women, and it ends up being a misogynistic ramble like Chetan Bhagat’s 2011 tour de foo-foo? And then everyone shouts at them, and they are like Womens Are the Worstest and Maine Kya Kiya. But Bhagat being made of some material that the Mars Mission should explore continued to say more terrible things, apart from his fiction, that is. But when Kevin Roberts, chairperson of the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi recently decided to present to us his ideas about gender diversity at the workplace, and women and their happiness, during an interview with Business Insider, we rolled our eyes at this new person giving us an old ramble.
Roberts is probably also saying Maine Kya Kiya right now, because his excursion into philosophy has cost him dearly. More than his statements, what was puzzling was his need to defend his total (self-confessed) non-engagement with gender diversity issues in advertising by defining women’s idea of happiness. This time it sounded rather amusing because Roberts said that, “Their [women’s] 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.'”
Apart from saying that it did not matter that there was a lack of women in top jobs, he also went ahead and said that women lacked ambition. After his musings about women’s circular happiness, he then went on to say, “I don’t think [the lack of women in leadership roles] is a problem. I’m just not worried about it because they are very happy, they’re very successful, and doing great work. I can’t talk about sexual discrimination because we’ve never had that problem, thank goodness.”
Roberts has since been suspended by Publicis Groupe, the agency’s parent company. Publicis Groupe has also sent a statement to all its staff, reiterating their policy on gender inclusion. “Promoting gender equality starts at the top and the Groupe will not tolerate anyone speaking for our organisation who does not value the importance of inclusion,” they said. Statistics published in January show that only about 32 percent of senior management positions at Saatchi & Saatchi are held by women.
Why Roberts thinks women just want to be happy and that being in a top job does not constitute happiness for them is a mystery. Oh wait! That’s how circular thinking, brother of circular ambition, works.