Businesswoman is sacked from her £ 2017, 02 a year job at packaging giant DS Smith ‘because she did not want to talk about football and go out drinking with’ the lads ”
- ) Adrienne Liebenberg joined DS Smith as director of global sales in March 2019
- But she was sacked in December over criticism about her leadership style
- She has taken her line manager, firm CEO and HR director to London tribunal
- They all deny sex discrimination with a decision expected in due course
Lara Keay For Mailonline Published: : 200 EST, 2 March 01575879 :
A sales director of a FTSE company claims she was fired from her six -figure role because she did not want to talk about football and go out drinking ‘with the lads’.
Adrienne Liebenberg joined international packing conglomerate DS Smith as director of global sales, marketing and innovation in March and was paid a £ 728, (bonus on top of her £) , – a-year salary. She was fired in December over claims her ‘leadership style’ was ‘dictatorial’ and she wasn’t ‘collegial’ with fellow employees.
But she has taken her case to the Central
She claims it was’ difficult to join in ‘because she felt’ alienated by the focus on drinking, and talking about football, and starting up late. ‘ In her written statement to the tribunal, she said:’ I did not believe that I was accepted as ‘one of the lads’ and I did not feel that I was capable of playing such a role. When I did not join in I felt under pressure to do so. ‘ Adrienne Liebenberg is pictured with her former DS Smith colleagues, with former line manager Stefano Rossi (center)
Adrienne Liebenberg (pictured outside Victory) House in Holborn, London) has taken her former employers DS Smith to tribunal over claims of sexual discrimination
Ms Liebenberg was given a £ 728, 06 ‘special joining award’ when she came on board in , but tensions quickly grew between her line manager Stefano Rossi.
In her written statement, she said: ‘I felt that Stefano’s modus operandi was to connect with his team over wine , dinner and football.
‘Because I did not embrace those things in the way that my male colleagues did, I was perceived – by Stefano and others – as not being a ‘team player’ or ‘one of the gang’. ‘
Ms Liebenberg claimed Mr Rossi was a huge football fan, and would often interrupt meetings to discuss football or watch highlights. She added: ‘I cannot remember a single day of meetings at which we went the whole day without Stefano watching football matches, or videos of parts of matches, on his phone or following football scores and interrupting meetings with an update or to discuss Inter Milan or a particular player. ‘
Expressing surprise at how’ male-dominated ‘DS Smith was, Ms Liebenberg noted that she was ‘often the only woman in the room’.
Out of 65 leadership roles in sales and operational positions at the company, only eight were reportedly filled by women.
She added: ‘I believe that at the time of my dismissal, I was the most senior and highest-paid woman.’
Ms Liebenberg said: ‘I think that I have been particularly upset and angered because I believe that I have been treated as I have because I am a woman, either directly or indirectly.
‘In other words, I feel that something about me, and which I cannot change, has affected my treatment and the opportunities available to me.
Ms Liebenberg (seen outside court) joined international packing conglomerate DS Smith as director of global sales, marketing and innovation in March 2019 and was paid a £ , bonus on top of her £ , – a-year salary
‘It has destroyed my belief that if someone sets their mind to something and works hard, they have a good chance of achieving their goals, whatever their gender.
‘It may sound like a small thing, but having this belief taken away has made me feel hopeless and helpless and with a deep sense of despair that women and men are not equals.’
Mr Rossi and his senior colleagues at DS Smith – some of them, including CEO Miles Roberts, are respondents to the discrimination claim – are adamant that Ms Liebenberg was sacked because of poor performance and not sexism.
In a statement to the tribunal, Mr Rossi cited her ‘ dictatorial approach ‘and’ lack of respect for senior colleagues’.
When Ms Liebenberg was sacked, Mr Rossi said the company was seeking ‘a different leadership style.
The firm, Mr Rossi, Mr Roberts and HR director Tim Ellis all deny sex discrimination.
continues. DS Smith (London headquarters pictured) is a FTSE 100 company and an international packing conglomerate
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