Leo Burnett Sydney CEO: staffer’s Facebook threat to freelancer was ’emotional response’

Peter Bosilkovski Leo Burnett CEO

Peter Bosilkovski Leo Burnett CEO

Leo Burnett Sydney’s CEO has broken his silence on the ongoing equality debate to blame the “large emotional response” the issue has generated for a threat made on Facebook by a staffer not to hire a freelancer who shared an article on the issue.

In his first public statement since Cindy Gallop called out the agency on social media for releasing a picture of its new senior creative hires, who happened to be five white men, Peter Bosilkovski also admitted the equality debate is one the industry needed to have.

The response came after a member of staff of the agency told a freelancer on Facebook over the weekend that she was not being offered work with Leo Burnett because she had shared a Daily Mail story critical of the hiring announcement in Leo Burnett’s creative department.

“Leo Burnett Sydney has been at the centre of a conversation that is vital to have,” said Bosilkovski in the statement released this morning.

“Understandably, this has also created a large emotional response. The recent posts on social media are emotional responses by one employee, and do not reflect the views of management of the company, or a company policy of any kind. We have spoken to both our employee and the contractor regarding this issue to resolve it.

leo burnett blurred facebookIn the Facebook post the staffer wrote: “We almost called you about some work today. But since you bad mouthed us without any knowledge of the female quota in the agency, we will think again. #burnthosebridges.”

The post was followed by an online argument about why the freelancer was being targeted for sharing a news story.

The conversation containing the threat was subsequently deleted, but not before a screen shot had been shared widely on the internet, bringing a renewed focus on Leo Burnett and the broader issue of hiring policies in ad agency creative departments.

The hiring of “five white guys” has sparked a furious debate after equality campaigner Cindy Gallop tweeted criticism of the announcement.

While Leo Burnett waited four days before using Twitter to respond to the outcry on Friday afternoon, the agency’s Australian CEO has remained silent until now.

Although the agency said it had spoken to the freelancer about the issue, it declined to say if they had been offered work and if so, if the offer had been accepted.

Updated: 5pm

The freelancer involved told Mumbrella that she disputed the claim by the agency that it had had discussions with her.

She said while she had been contacted by the agency she had not returned the calls.

Leo Burnett has subsequently confirmed that it had not yet spoken to the freelancer but had left messages with her asking for her to contact them so they could discuss the situation.

Simon Canning





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