The men claimed that they lost their jobs at one of Britain’s legacy ad agencies after their boss, creative director Jo Wallace spoke at a Creative Equals diversity conference in May, the Times reported.
Wallace’s purported statement follows a pledge by the agency, part of global advertising conglomerate WPP, to radically improve its diversity record after revealing a ‘horrible’ median gender pay gap of 44.7 percent in favour of men.
JWT executive creative director Lucas Peon and CEO James Whitehead attended the May meeting, and had acknowledged that the ratio is a problem for the company’s image, with Peon affirming: “In the World Cup of sucking at pay gap numbers, we made the final.”
Wallace has been a #MeToo activist, urging agencies and the advertising community to change policies regarding women and sexual minorities.
“A hell of a lot of people are literally sleeping on the job when it comes to diversifying their creative department beyond white, pale, stale males,” she wrote in a 2017 column for The Drum, a marketing trade magazine.
The executives preparing their discrimination claim had approached the JWT human resources department after Wallace’s speech, concerned about her words and what it could mean for their careers.
“It’s not appropriate for us to comment on individuals in an ongoing process. Any redundancies at J Walter Thompson London are handled fairly, lawfully and without any form of discrimination,” a JWT spokesperson said in a statement.