Saatchi & Saatchi executive chairman Kevin Roberts is in trouble after telling Business Insider in an interview that he thinks the debate over gender equality in advertising is “over” and that the reason there are so few women in leadership positions in the industry is that women’s ambition “is not a vertical ambition, it’s this intrinsic, circular ambition to be happy.” Publicis Groupe, the Paris-based holding company that owns Saatchi & Saatchi, has forced Roberts to take a leave of absence while its supervisory board decides on his future with the company, Shereen Pathak reports at Digiday:
Publicis CEO Maurice Levy sent an internal memo to employees to “reiterate the Groupe’s no-tolerance policy toward behavior or commentary counter to the spirit of Publicis Groupe and its celebration of difference.” Roberts is a high-ranking Publicis official, serving on its top executive management unit. … After he made the comments, industry activist Cindy Gallop, who was accused by Roberts of fueling the issue just to raise her profile, asked the industry to tweet what they thought at Roberts. Plenty did, including Pepsi exec Brad Jakeman and Taco Bell CMO Marisa Thalberg. …
Sources said that Publicis Communications CEO Arthur Sadoun also sent a memo to employees following Roberts’ comments that said, in part, that he found Roberts’ remarks offensive and that this behavior was not acceptable within the Groupe. “I am sorry that the comments made by Kevin have reflected poorly upon the Groupe and our culture,” he wrote.
The agency itself has quickly moved to condemn the executive chairman’s remarks, Stephen Lepitak adds at the Drum, putting out a statement from its CEO to defend his agency’s approach to diversity and gender equality, while acknowledging that the industry still has a lot of work to do in that department:
Getting a seat on a board of directors (or two) is a big deal, conferring power, prestige, and influence. Being a productive board member can mean a lot of extra work, however, especially today: Directors are spending more time on their board responsibilities than they used to, and organizations are increasingly looking for technical experts to sit on their boards, not just experienced managers. Yet even as directorships become more demanding, upwardly mobile executives remain eager to take on these roles. In the Harvard Business Review, Steven Boivie, Scott D. Graffin, Abbie Oliver, and Michael C. Withers present the findings of a study they conducted to find out why that is—or more specifically, “whether or not board service increased an executive’s likelihood of receiving a promotion, becoming a CEO, and/or receiving a pay increase.” As it turns out, it does:
Michael Horn, the president and CEO of Volkswagen’s US operations, abruptly resigned on Wednesday after two years in the post, the New York Times‘ Jad Mouawad reports. Hinrich J. Woebcken, recently appointed head of the North American region and chairman of Volkswagen Group of America, will take his place. Horn’s departure, on which the auto maker did not comment except to say that it was decided by “mutual agreement,” comes after months-long series of resignations and reorganizations in the wake of an emissions cheating scandal that has already cost the company billions.
The Times report notes that Horn had played a key role in managing Volkswagen’s relations with its American dealerships amid declining sales and increasing frustration with the company’s leadership in Germany. As Mouawad describes, his absence is already making dealers nervous:
Earlier this month, Leadership IQ founder Mark Murphy published a quiz on his company’s blog to assess his readers’ approaches to change management. Writing at Forbes, he pulls an intriguing data point from his first 2,163 respondents. Murphy asked his readers whether they thought that “people generally like to remain in the status quo” or whether “people generally want to reach for something bigger and better.” He also asked them to identify what position they currently held in their organization, and cross-compared the findings.
Frontline professionals, he found, were significantly more likely than managers or top-level executives to agree with the first statement rather than the second. In fact, although a majority still said they thought people “generally want to reach for something bigger and better,” professionals split 55–45 percent on the question, compared to 59–41 percent for directors and VPs, 62–38 percent for managers, and 63–37 percent for C-suite executives. As Murphy’s respondents were self-selected, his findings aren’t statistically rigorous, but he reasons that the people who took the quiz were, if anything, “more motivated than the average person,” so a more scientific study might show even less enthusiasm for change among frontline professionals. Murphy discusses what such an enthusiasm gap means for the likelihood of successful change:
Sarah Fister Gale at Workforce spots a trend:
Tech firms ranging from Glassdoor Inc. to Redfin to Zillow Group are among the industry players that have added chief economist positions. Also, companies such as eBay Inc. and Pandora Media Inc. have hired groups of economists from think tanks, government agencies and global consultancies to bring new insight in the reams of data they accumulate and analyze.
The annual salary range seems to vary as organizations grapple with the position’s value, according to several websites. Job aggregator Indeed lists the position at $147,000 in New York while Salary Expert lists the average salary for a chief economist at $158,639 in the United States. PayScale Inc. notes that a senior economist earns an average salary of $105,599 per year, while financial giant Barclays pays its chief economist just over $200,000.
While this is still a relatively new trend in the human resources tech world, it is likely to continue as these service providers realize the value they have in the customer data they hold, said Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor, the employer review, jobs and recruiting site. “Economists can complement the work of the data scientists, and uncover the hidden insight in the data that will surprise people and generate a lot of attention.”
With the chief executives of two giant companies out of commission on medical leave, the challenges of a temporary, unexpected absence at the top of the corporate pyramid have come into sharp focus. In these situations, much depends on the acting leaders who step in to fill the shoes of out-of-commission CEOs. In the Wall Street Journal last week, reporters Rachel Feintzeig and Joann Lublin examined why “interim CEO” isn’t an enviable job title:
Interim leaders risk criticism for being too assertive or too docile, according to Jeffrey Cohn, managing director for global CEO succession planning at recruiters DHR International. Brash action can anger the company’s board of directors, but tepid leadership can hurt an executive’s chances for advancement after the permanent leader returns or arrives. Some interim chiefs plucked from senior management resume their prior role or take a different internal position, such as chief operating officer, Mr. Cohn says. Regardless, he added, “It is always a letdown. It’s hard to go back to hamburgers when you have had filet.”
About 29% of interim CEOs permanently end up with the top job, according to research by Gary Ballinger, an associate professor of commerce at University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce, and a colleague. The analysis of 2,500 public companies found that those run by temporary chiefs logged lower net income and stock market performance than those that immediately replaced their CEO.
In our research, we’ve looked at leadership transitions and how organizations can navigate them successfully. CEB members can read our findings here.
The Guardian’s Graham Ruddick reports that Volkswagen has radically reorganized its management team in the wake of the scandal over its emissions scandal, in an effort to detoxify the company’s culture and cut costs in the face of what could add up to tens of billions of euros in fines and customer compensation:
The German carmaker has almost halved the number of senior managers reporting directly to Matthias Müller, the chief executive, and brought in several new faces. Müller has pledged to transform the notoriously unwieldy structure of VW after the company admitted that the emissions scandal had occurred because of a “whole chain” of errors and a corporate mindset that tolerated rule-breaking. …