Board member Kevin Roberts attends the Telecom annual general meeting in Auckland, New Zealand on Sept. 28, 2012.
Hannah Peters—Getty Images
August 3, 2016 8:06 AM EDT

A high-powered top executive of advertising company Publicis Groupe has stepped down following controversial comments he made on the issue of gender inequality in the workplace.

Kevin Roberts, head coach of Publicis and also the chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, told Business Insider the debate over gender discrimination is “over” as far as advertising goes, and that other industries have it a lot worse. He also dismissed comments made in a tweet by former advertising firm BBH president Cindy Gallop:

In response, Roberts said: “I think she’s got problems that are of her own making. I think she’s making up a lot of the stuff to create a profile, and to take applause, and to get on a soap[box].”

Following his controversial comments, Roberts was put on leave by Publicis Groupe, who 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,” it 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.”

Publicis Groupe announced on their website that Roberts has resigned from the company, effective on Sept. 1 this year. He was due to retire in May 2017.

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