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General Manager of Saatchi and Saatchi Kevin Roberts attends the Quattroruote Magazine Car of the Year Meeting held at Palazzo Mezzanotte in Milan on Jan. 29, 2008.
Vittorio Zunino Celotto—Getty Images

A powerful advertising executive has been put on leave after appearing to dismiss the issue of gender inequality in the workplace in an interview.

Saatchi & Saatchi Chairman and head of the Publicis Groupe Kevin Roberts told Business Insider the debate over gender discrimination is “over” as far as advertising goes, and that other industries have it way worse. He said Publicis Groupe has a 50-50 gender split and 65% of Saatchi & Saatchi’s staff are women but that female employees do not want to be in positions of power: “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 executive involved said: ‘I don’t want to manage a piece of business and people, I want to keep doing the work’,” he said.

Millennials, particularly millennial women, he said, are more interested in finding happiness and collaborating in the workplace rather than leading a team:

In a statement announcing Roberts’ leave, Publicis Groupe said diversity and inclusion in the workplace are non-negotiable. “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,” the statement said. “Publicis Groupe works very hard to champion diversity and will continue to insist that each agency’s leadership be champions of both diversity and inclusion.”

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