Maja Pawinska Sims 21 Feb 2018 // 11:49AM GMT
BARCELONA — Spanish PR agency Impulsa Comunicación has been dropped by clients including Coca-Cola Spain and Carglass after rejecting a female applicant because the account executive role "needed a man who could handle the pace of working with big companies".
In an email to Carla Forcada, currently an account executive at another Barcelona agency, Secreto A Voces, Impulsa Comunicación said: "Right now we are in a process of selection but we are looking for a guy because the accounts with which they will work are Carglass and Coca Cola… and believe me, they need a man to handle the pace, the visits, know about production etc.”
Forcada tweeted a shot of the email, saying it was "incredible that companies that practice gender-based discrimination in the workplace still exist." She told Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia: "I can do the job like a man. I have no problem, my team is all female and we carry the agency where I currently work perfectly. I felt insulted."
The clients mentioned in the email made their position clear on Twitter within hours. Coca-Cola Spain stated: "The Coca-Cola company does not work with Impulsa Comunicación and rejects such discriminatory responses. We have an inclusive, diverse and egalitarian recruitment policy. We regret to see our name related to this discriminatory and unfortunate response."
And the Spanish division of window glass repair company Carglass apologised to Forcada "and anyone else who has been offended by this message; we are too. We have expressed our position to Impulsa Comunicación". It also said the company "promotes gender equality and acts like these do not represent our position".
After Forcada’s post went viral, she received a further email from Impulsa Comunicación suggesting another job might be available. The agency later tweeted an apology: "We are very sorry for this situation, the product of a totally unfortunate message written on a bad day."
Impulsa Comunicación has since shut down its website, and in a press release managing director Pere Terès said the situation was "unfortunate":
"The message she received, which I recognise was totally disproportionate, was the fruit of haste and the need to not leave unanswered all those people who applied to our offer, and therefore I want to reiterate my apologies publicly. In fact, one of the first steps we took was to contact Carla Forcada to show our rejection of this unpleasant incident. We offered her the possibility of coming to our office to meet the team and see that our work environment is far from discriminatory."
Terès added that measures had been taken to make sure the situation did not happen again, and reiterated that discrimination was not accepted in the company or by its clients. "I’m very sorry for what happened, both with the candidate and with the companies that have been involved in this unfortunate situation."