Agency in turmoil

PR founder Beattie resigns over social media post

Gordon Beattie

Gordon Beattie: ‘truly sorry’

Veteran PR executive Gordon Beattie has resigned as chairman of his eponymous company following controversy sparked by a post on social media.

Gordon Beattie, founder of Beattie Communications (originally Beattie Media), was criticised for a message on LinkedIn which was deemed racist and homophobic.

Mr Beattie insists the message was mis-interpreted from what he intended to say, but accepts that the language he used was “inappropriate”.

On LinkedIn he wrote: “At Beattie Communications we don’t hire blacks, gays or Catholics” but went on to say that this was because the agency only hires “talented people” and does not care about their skin colour, sexual orientation or religion.

Barrington Reeves, founder of Black Lives Matters Scotland, labelled Beattie “racist” and “homophobic” over his “insensitive” post.

Mr Beattie said he issued the post with the best of intent and was “truly sorry” for the offence it caused.

He said: “My post was issued with the best of intent, but it did not take account of the complexities of creating a level playing field – of which I am well aware – and the language I used was inappropriate.

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“I am truly sorry for the embarrassment I have caused the wonderful team across the business and our clients, and for the offence it has clearly caused.

“I have always hired people based on their potential, talent and ability, and done my best to equip them with the skills to succeed.

“It’s a wrench to step down as chair but I feel I have no alternative. The time is right to go.”

In the LinkedIn post Mr Beattie wrote that companies should only hire people for their “talent, experience, knowledge and wisdom”.

He added: “We hire people we like, trust and admire and recruit people who have the potential to be better than us.”

Mr Reeves commented: “It was tone deaf, insensitive, racist, homophobic and utterly unacceptable.

“Gordon’s point of view enforces that it’s ok to overlook the struggles that marginalised communities face when attempting to seek jobs in the creative industries – his attitude is exactly the hurdle we have been trying to overcome for years.

“In the wake of BLM, many companies have been reassessing their hiring practices, some of whom may well be on Beattie Communications’ client list. However, it seems Gordon does not see the need for reflection himself or for his UK-wide company.”

Mr Reeves added: “I’ve had a few messages from former employees who were really disappointed with his indicative way of thinking – one of them told me they had to leave, due to the toxic work environment.”

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