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WPP as an employer

Diversity and inclusion

We want our workforce to reflect the diversity of the populations we serve. To achieve this we aim to recruit a diverse range of people and to create an inclusive workplace where everyone's views are heard. Our non-discrimination policy, introduced in 1992, commits us to select, develop and promote the best people without regard to factors such as race, religion, national origin, colour, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age or disability. Where existing employees become disabled, our policy is to provide continuing employment and training wherever practicable.

WPP's Code of Business Conduct contains policies on human resource issues, such as harassment and discrimination. Our people can report any concerns or suspected cases of discrimination or misconduct confidentially (and anonymously if desired) through our Right to Speak helpline.

In 2007, women accounted for 33% of board members/executive leaders, 47% of senior managers and 55% of total employees. There are currently three women on WPP's Board and a female Company Secretary and Group chief counsel.

During 2007, WPP became an associate member of Opportunity Now, a UK organisation which helps companies promote gender equality in the workplace.

All of our major companies in the US have internal programs to promote diversity and inclusion in their workforce. These include:

  • Partnerships: Our agencies support the work of diversity organisations such as the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) Operation Success, the Leadership, Education and Development Program in Business, and the National Black Public Relations Society.
  • Internships: Many WPP companies participate in the AAAA's Multicultural Advertising Internship Program (MAIP) and other initiatives that allow minority students to gain experience in the marketing industry.
  • Targeted recruitment activities: WPP companies have launched initiatives to enhance diversity recruitment at entry, mid and senior levels. This includes participating in minority recruitment fairs, and using specialised recruitment agencies and publications.
  • Raising employee awareness: Our companies provide training and information to ensure that employees understand our policies and the importance of creating a diverse workforce.
Gender Diversity 2003 -2007

Development and training

Staff training and wellfare 2003 - 2007

WPP is a people business and we aspire to high standards of employment progression and investment in the development of our teams. We offer development opportunities to enable our people to gain new skills and advance their careers. These include performance assessment, succession planning and training. Our goal is for our people at all levels to receive regular performance appraisals.

In 2007, WPP invested £38.6 million in training and wellbeing across the Group.

Training courses are co-ordinated at operating company level. These cover all aspects of company business and creative skills. Many companies in the UK are accredited as Investors in People including Banner Corporation, Coley Porter Bell, EWA, Headcount and Ogilvy Healthworld. This is a UK standard of good practice for training and development.

Employee share ownership

Share ownership gives our people a financial stake in the Company and a share in its success. WPP's Worldwide Ownership Plan, introduced in 1997, has granted share options to over 63,976 of our people. Details of this plan and other executive stock options can be found in the How we're rewarded section.


With 110,0001 people in 106 countries, strong internal communication is essential. Some examples are:

  • Distribution of the Annual Report and Accounts, the Navigator company handbook, the Atticus Journal, The WIRE (WPP's multi-award winning global newspaper), and regular FactFiles to all companies worldwide.
  • WPP's public monthly online news bulletin e.wire.
  • Regular communication on Group initiatives such as the Worldwide Partnership Program, BrandZ™, the Atticus Awards, the WPP Marketing Fellowship Program and professional development workshops.
  • Periodic reports from Sir Martin Sorrell to participants in LEAP and to the Leaders, Partners and High Potential groups.
  • WPP's website, Group intranet site and professional knowledge communities.
  • Formal and informal meetings at operating company level.
  • Our annual Corporate Responsibility Report is widely distributed across WPP and is available on our websites.


1 Including associates

Health and wellbeing

Promoting a healthy workforce benefits our business by increasing productivity and reducing the costs of people taking time off work due to illness. We have identified two main risks to health and wellbeing associated with office workplaces, where most of our employees are based. These are work-related stress and injuries connected to workstation ergonomics.

Our companies seek to create an environment where people feel able to discuss any issues, including stress, with their manager or human resources department. Our companies also assess the risk of work-related stress through regular staff surveys and by monitoring issues raised via our Right to Speak helpline, Employee Assistance Programs and during exit interviews.

Initiatives to combat workplace stress vary by company but include:

  • Employee Assistance Programs – a source of confidential advice, support and counselling.
  • Flexible benefit programs, including subsidised childcare.
  • Flexible work arrangements enabling people to work part-time or from home.
  • Medical checks and health screening.
  • Training on stress and time management.

Ensuring our workstations follow good practice design reduces problems such as repetitive strain injury or back problems.

Employee external appointments

The Company recognises that its directors and senior executives may be invited to become non-executive directors of other companies and that such exposure may be beneficial to the Group. Consequently, executives are allowed to accept non-executive appointments with non-competing companies subject to obtaining the approval of the Group chief executive in the case of senior executives and the approval of the Nomination Committee in the case of executive directors. Any fees receivable out of such appointments are retained by the individuals concerned.