Sam Zell's comment on gender diversity includes profanity

Nobody is going to accuse Sam Zell of being overly PC.

Asked to offer his views on diversity in the workplace and about women who are speaking out about office harassment, the founder of Equity Group Investments offered a vulgar reply, according to multiple accounts, including Bloomberg.

"That whole arena, frankly, has never been part of my world, and I think that's why it's been so successful," Zell told an investor conference in New York on Wednesday, "because I don't think there's ever been a 'we've gotta get more p***y on the block,' OK?"

The 76-year-old billionaire investor drew gasps and laughter from the hundreds of mostly men in the audience, according to one account.

"When you're my age, there's gotta be some things you can get away with," he said. "Although you ask Steve Wynn, I don't know," a reference to the casino mogul ousted as CEO of Wynn Resorts (WYNN) following allegations of sexual harassment.

Before offering his crass response, Zell told the gathering he ran a merit-based business and had neither hired nor fired a woman because of her gender. Marguerite Nader is CEO of Zell's Equity LifeStyle Properties. 

Zell has a track record of making controversial statements, using the f-word and other obscenities during TV interviews and other public appearances. Zell's company did not immediately respond to a CBS MoneyWatch request for comment.