Balancing gender diversity from the top

If gender equality, inclusion and diversity starts at the top at Publicis Groupe - despite public statements and placing Saatchi’s Kevin Roberts on leave - much work still to do at executive level.
Last week Saatchi & Saatchi chairman Kevin Roberts confidently expressed antediluvian views about gender diversity in an interview with Business Insider UK. In addition to his chairmanship of Saatchi & Saatchi, Roberts also served as head coach at the advertising agency's parent company, Publicis Groupe until his views placed him on leave with immediate effect.
After rusticating Roberts, Publicis Groupe released a statement that noted, “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.”
Non-executive director evangelist Gerry Brown comments, “While the prompt action and reactions of Publicis Groupe to diversity and inclusion within their organization prompted by Roberts views deserves commendation, nonetheless questions remain about the gender imbalance of almost all their executive leadership and executive committee teams. The issue of gender equality in these teams is far from over and if the commitment to the promotion of gender equality really ‘starts at the top’, then Chairman and CEO of the Publicis Groupe Maurice Levy still has much work to do if actions are to properly match the commitment, intention and words expressed. Diversity and inclusion are for life, not just for crisis.”
If we look at the current make up and gender split of the various Publicis Groupe executive leadership teams and committees, they are as follows:
P12 Executive committee
2 women in committee of 20 (10%)
now 2/19 (10.5%) without Roberts
Directoire aka Management board [decides fate of Roberts]
1 woman in board of 5 (20%)
Strategic Leadership team
3 women in team of 20 (15%)
now 3/19 (16%) without Roberts
Supervisory board
6 women in board of 13 (46%)
Appointment committee
2 women in committee of 5 (40%)
Audit committee
2 women in committee of 3 (66%)
Compensation committee
2 women in committee of 5 (20%)
Strategy & Risk committee
3 women in committee of 4 (75%)
Brown continues, “Despite positive words and some change over recent years, way too many executive boards are still primarily male monocultures. Diversity at board level – whether it’s thought of in terms of age, gender, religion, culture or race – often boosts revenues and grows the bottom line. It is proven to discourage group thinking, encourage inclusion and greater staff satisfaction, ameliorate change as well as deliver better, more independent thinking and strategic independence. Though change can’t be accomplished overnight, I’ve long advocated diverse non-executive director appointments to efficiently and quickly effect positive immediate change at board level. Such appointments go in tandem with more gradual but required step changes of Chairmen and senior executives. Until diversity is fitted as standard, it is far from being achieved let alone over.”
Read more about Publicis Groupe
ReadKevin Roberts' interview