JWT London denies discrimination claims

Peon and Wallace at the Creative Equals conference
Peon and Wallace at the Creative Equals conference

Spokesperson said any redundancies are 'handled fairly'.

J Walter Thompson London has rejected claims that it has discriminated against white, straight, British men.

A spokeswoman for the agency said: "Whilst 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."

JWT reacted after Campaign reported that a group of white, straight, British male creatives have sought legal advice about taking action against the agency for discrimination after being made redundant earlier this year.

One source told Campaign that JWT London has been making redundancies in the creative department for the past year-and-a-half, with the redundancies capped at under 20 people. Companies making more than 20 redundancies are required by law to follow "collective consultation" rules.  

Given that white men make up the majority of the JWT London creative department, redundancies were proportionately likely to result in white men losing their jobs, the source observed.

The men involved in the dispute claim that they were made redundant just days after going to the agency’s HR department to express concern at remarks made by JWT creative director Jo Wallace on stage at a Creative Equals conference in May.

However, Campaign can now clarify that Wallace was not speaking alone but in a joint presentation with JWT executive creative director Lucas Peon. James Whitehead, the chief executive of JWT, was in the audience to hear the speech.

The presentation came hot on the heels of the publication of JWT London's gender pay gap figures and was one of the first times the agency addressed closing that gap in a public forum. 

Peon and Wallace identified the need to change the agency’s reputation as a Knightsbridge "boys’ club" and Peon highlighted its status as the UK group with the biggest gender pay gap in advertising (its mean and median gender pay gaps were reported as 38.8% and 44.7% respectively).  

Peon declared: "In the World Cup of sucking at pay gap numbers, we made the final."

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