Matthew Miller
Oct 20, 2017

Ogilvy India leader steps into harassment controversy

The agency's managing partner drew rebuke and has since apologised for commenting that pinching and grabbing are "part of growing up".

Chandana Agarwal
Chandana Agarwal

Chandana Agarwal, Ogilvy & Mather's managing partner in Delhi, has drawn criticism (and later apologised) for comments on Facebook that characterised being "grabbed at" and "pinched" as "part of growing up".

Agarwal's Facebook comment, which has apparently been removed, was screencapped and posted by Harnidh Kaur, who said it was sent to her by a friend within Ogilvy. It appears that Vagabomb was the first media outlet to report on it. Here is Kuar's post, containing Agarwal's comments:

Agarwal has since issued an apology, also via Facebook: 

The incident drew the attention of Cindy Gallop, who just days ago issued a call for people in the industry to name harassers. Gallop commented:

No, not 'part of growing up'. Not normal. Not any of it. Not in India. Not anywhere.

Agarwal appeared to be attempting to voice solidarity with the countless women worldwide posting #MeToo stories in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. However, many commenters seized on the irony that her comments entirely miss the point of that movement by minimising and thus normalising what in any sane society would be considered sexual assault. 

As Kuar said in her post:

This is the SAME line of minimising so many survivors face. ‘Well did you get raped? You’re lucky. So many have it so much worse.’ And she’s a woman I’m supposed to look up to as a young woman woman entering the workforce?

Ogilvy's India CEO Kunal Jeswani posted a reaction to the incident, reassuring Ogilvy employees that no incident is "too small to be heard or acted upon": 

The controversy echoes a heated conversation in the UK over the last couple days: A top M&C Saatchi creative sparked off a wave of incredulous comments after saying that he was "bored with diversity being prioritised over talent" in a column in Campaign UK. He has since apologised.

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