McCann Demotes Executive After He Says He’s ‘So F**king Bored’ During DEI Training

McCann, a global advertising agency, is explaining the decision to reassign an executive to a new role after he allegedly made “racially offensive” remarks during a diversity training session, according to a Sunday Ad Age report.

The agency held its 5th annual Day for Meaning on September 14 — a day in which employees engage in reflective exercises and workshops on racial inequality, according to Ad Age. Multiple people familiar with the incident said Lipton found himself in hot water after he reportedly typed he was “so fucking bored” in the comments section of the virtual presentation.

McCann New York CEO Amber Guild issued a statement the same day in an apparent attempt to head off the outrage Lipton’s comment sparked, per the outlet. The company also reportedly held a town hall meeting the following day denouncing the incident.

Lipton also publicly apologized to the agency and acknowledged his comments.

Lipton then took a leave of absence Sept. 19 in response to the outrage at his comment. Guild also suggested the company would continue embedding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) principles into the company’s culture.

“In talking with Pierre this weekend, I suggested, and Pierre agreed, that he should take some time away to reflect on his comment and its impact on the community. So, as of today, Pierre is taking a leave of absence for two weeks to consider the full effect of his words, and the power and responsibility of his position as CCO with regard to being a positive force for conscious inclusion in the company, and one whose leadership behaviors model our values,” a staff email sent by Guild read, according to Ad Age.

“During that time, I’ll be working with our leadership team to continue to review the feedback we have and are receiving, the Belong and Pulse survey results, and other measures to identify and create an action plan for our company—one that starts with our leadership and one that includes accountability. This will include measures like conscious inclusion scores being tied to leadership bonus structure, an inclusive leadership curriculum … as well as everyone receiving regular feedback, among other measures,” the statement continued.

McCann announced Oct. 5th that in the wake of his comments at the Day for Meaning event, the company had investigated Lipton’s long-term behavior, per the outlet. The statement claims Lipton had not behaved in ways expected of an executive, and that he would be demoted as a result.

“Following the investigation, we determined that Pierre was not consistently modeling the behaviors that we feel are critical in an agency-specific leadership role and made the decision to remove him from the role of co-CCO of McCann New York to a role as a global executive creative director that focuses his talent on craft and global brands, while he works to further develop his skills as an executive,” the statement read, according to Ad Age.

McCann exec Pierre Lipton’s inappropriate comment during inclusion event sparks two-week leave and a job change.

— Ad Age (@adage) October 9, 2023

Guild also addressed Lipton’s demotion in a separate statement, saying that McCann, “asked him to step down from executive leadership team of the New York office while he works on his growth and development in a role that is focused on creative craft. We are a new executive leadership team for McCann New York, and this incident has unearthed opportunity for us to put more systems and structures in place to ensure we are a consciously inclusive workplace culture where we can all do our best work.”

Mosito Ramaili, managing director of the BoSabi Creative Club, skewered McCann’s decision to retain Lipton on his LinkedIn page. He called Lipton a “parochial racist” and vowed to use his speaking time at an Adweek panel event to publicly lambast the company.

McCann New York moving that racist Pierre Lipton across your business is not the solution,” Ramaili wrote.

“I will use my platform at next week’s Adweek and the panel I will be on to pivot from my assigned talking points and dedicate all 40 minutes of my allotted time to clearly show the thread of conversations and the efforts of McCann New York to conceal a tone deaf racist within their ranks,” he wrote.

“It is no different to antebellum days. You use non-whites and pay them the maximum minimum and discard them once you’ve sucked every sinew of their energy and creativity. You protect a parochial racist who publicly spews such neanderthilic words about Diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Disgusting,” he continued.

Corporations have reportedly pivoted away from DEI efforts in 2023. Though DEI efforts and hiring spiked after the 2020 murder of George Floyd, a challenging economic environment has forced companies to shed unnecessary expenditures.