Richard Edelman clarifies ‘mistake in delivery’ during return-to-office comments

Some employees took offense this week at an anecdote made during a presentation on Trust Barometer data about women returning to the physical office.

Edelman noted that 54% of the agency's leaders are women. (Photo credit: Getty Images).

CHICAGO: Edelman CEO Richard Edelman sought to clarify remarks he made this week while giving staffers a preview of agency research about reasons for women employees to return to the office.

Some employees were offended by Edelman’s remarks, according to comments about the event made on the Fishbowl networking app that were seen by PRWeek. Some Edelman staffers questioned whether the agency’s CEO said a reason for returning to the office is that women employees have to work harder and be visible.

In an internal memo to staff after the presentation that was reposted on Fishbowl, Edelman noted: “I want to be clear that I in no way believe or want to perpetuate an unfair expectation that women must return to office in order to compete. This is not how we have or how we will address or evaluate the vast contributions of our workforce.”

Edelman told PRWeek in an emailed statement on Thursday that he was quoting a third-party source during his presentation when he made the comment.

“I made a mistake in my delivery when discussing return to office and failed to reinforce the values we uphold at Edelman,” Edelman said. “Our hybrid working approach is intended to create flexibility and help rectify some of the historic inequities and inequalities of the traditional working model.”

Edelman added that he is proud that 54% of the firm’s global leaders are women.

“I want to be clear that success at our firm is driven by demonstrated results for our clients, our colleagues and our communities,” Edelman said.

Edelman’s Trust in the Workplace study, released this week, found that most employees trust their employers, despite falling confidence in government and media. The study of more than 1,000 people found that more than eight in 10 (81%) respondents said friends and family are a source of community in their lives, and more than six in 10 said the same of “people who share their personal interests” (67%) and the people they work with (65%).

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