Men Win Sex Discrimination Claim After Director Vowed To ‘Obliterate’ White, Privileged Male Reputation
Two white, male creative directors have won a sex discrimination claim after a female director said the company’s reputation of being ‘full of white, British, privileged [men]’ had to be ‘obliterated’.
The report highlighted a lack of female representation in the company, which then hired female creative director Jo Wallace, reportedly in an effort to shake off its Mad Men reputation as being a company where ‘white, straight men create above-the-line advertising’.
At a diversity conference entitled Crisis: The Mother of All Change, Wallace commented: ‘One thing we all agree on is that the reputation JWT once earned – as being full of white, British, privileged [men] – has to be obliterated’, The Guardian reports.
Both Bayfield, 52, and Jenner, 50, are said to have expressed concerns about the safety of their jobs at the conference, with Bayfield sending an email to a superior which stated: ‘I found out recently JWT did a talk off site where it vowed to obliterate white, middle-class straight people from its creative department. There are a lot of very worried people down here.’
Following the discussions, the company’s human resources (HR) director called a meeting with the two men to talk about their concerns. A tribunal court considering the case heard that the men were considered to be challenging the drive for diversity, and within two days of the HR meeting it had been decided that Bayfield and Jenner would be made redundant.
All five men who were dismissed raised a case, though the three others settled out of court.
The tribunal heard Bayfield and Jenner were fired because bosses ‘urgently’ wanted to address its poor gender pay gap, and they ultimately won their sex discrimination claim as employment judge Mark Emery said the men were treated in such a hostile manner it amounted to ‘victimisation’.
In his judgment, cited by The Guardian, Emery said:
Both Ms Hoyle and Mr Peon were angry from the outset of the meeting, and it continued in this vein. Voices were raised by (HR team) Mr Peon and Ms Hoyle, and Mr Bayfield and Mr Jenner were forced to defend their position.
Their explanations were not at the time accepted and their points of view were angrily dismissed. [There was a] failure to accept that they had any valid concerns about the presentation … their views were regarded as unacceptable.
Emery went on to say the court had concluded there was a ‘consensus amongst senior management team that Mr Bayfield and Mr Jenner had overstepped the mark with their comments in their emails and at the meeting’, and that the men’s sex was ‘on the mind of [the company] when determining to dismiss them.’
He added: ‘This would immediately assist the gender pay gap issue within the creative team, it would rid the team of two creative directors who were, because of their sex, seen as resistant to change; also, female creative directors were exactly what [the company] were seeking.’
Following wins on claims of sex discrimination, victimisation, harassment and unfair dismissal, Bayfield and Jenner are set to receive compensation from Wunderman Thompson, a successor to JWT.
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