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WPP as an employer
WPP employs over 138,000 people (including employees in our associate companies) in almost 2,400 offices in 107 countries. Attracting and retaining talent is a central business issue for WPP companies. Our approach includes competitive remuneration, investment in training and development and a commitment to an inclusive workplace culture.
In 2009, like all businesses in the current economy, we monitored staff costs closely and reduced our workforce where necessary. The total number of people in the Group, excluding associates, at 31 December 2009 was 98,759 compared with 112,262 at the end of 2008, a decrease of 13,503, or 12.0%.
Diversity and inclusion
Competition for top contributors is strong and will continue to be intense in the communications services industry.
WPP companies invest a significant proportion of revenues in developing and rewarding employees. The quality of our companies’ employee training, development and reward programs differentiates us from our competitors. We aim to create an inclusive work environment that attracts the most talented people from all backgrounds.
WPP’s chief talent officer, Mark Linaugh, and our talent team assist our operating companies and their talent teams’ efforts to attract, develop and retain our talent. Human resources policies are agreed and implemented at operating company level. A cross section of HR leaders from US businesses met in October 2009 to discuss the significance of CR in attracting new talent to their respective companies and to share best practices.
A diverse workforce adds value to our businesses. It helps us understand consumers from all walks of life and create compelling marketing for our clients. An inclusive workplace culture helps us attract the most talented people from all backgrounds.
We introduced a non-discrimination policy in 1992. This commits all WPP companies to select, develop and promote people based on merit and regardless of race, religion, national origin, colour, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age or disability. Our Code of Conduct contains policies on harassment and non-discrimination. Where existing employees become disabled, our policy is to provide continuing employment and training wherever practicable.
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 2009, women accounted for 32% of board members/executive leaders, 46% of senior managers and 54% of total employees. There are currently three women on WPP’s Board and a female Company Secretary, Group communications director and Group chief counsel.
All of our major companies in the US have internal programs to promote diversity and inclusion in their workforce. These include:
- Partnerships: our operating companies work with diversity organisations and participate in initiatives to encourage diversity. These include Diversity Best Practices; The Leadership, Education and Development Program in Business; The National Black Public Relations Society; City College of New York and the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ (AAAA) Operation Success.
- Internships: several operating companies participate in the AAAA’s Multicultural Advertising Internship Program (MAIP) (NY City Capital Internship Program) and other initiatives that allow minority students to gain experience in the marketing industry.
- Targeted recruitment: many of our companies use specialist recruitment agencies and publications and attend minority recruitment fairs.
- Raising employee awareness: our companies provide training and information to ensure that employees understand the importance of diversity and inclusion.
Development and training
WPP is a people business and we aspire to high standards of employment progression and investment in the development of our teams. Our companies 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.
Training and professional development opportunities are provided at both the parent and operating company levels, which together reach several thousand people in the Group. These cover all aspects of company business and creative skills. In 2009, WPP companies invested £39.9 million in training and wellbeing.
Executive education helps our senior talent develop creative, client and personal leadership skills. Our flagship program is Maestro: Orchestrating Client Value – a five-day course aimed at strengthening the ability of our most senior client leaders to be valued and trusted advisers to their clients, colleagues and teams; and how to orchestrate the many talents our organisation possesses, so that our clients are best served. Since the program’s inception in 2003, it has been held in 16 countries, has reached more than 1,600 participants and involved 77 different WPP operating companies.
WPP has its own ‘Mini MBA’ program, designed to build functional knowledge and abilities. It combines online tutorials and simulations with instructor-led classroom training. Business disciplines covered are creating client value, strategy, marketing, people and organisational development, commercial acumen and working across cultures.
Remuneration and share ownership
Competitive remuneration packages help our companies attract and retain the best people. We regularly benchmark our compensation against other companies in our sector.
We motivate our people by providing performance-related remuneration in addition to basic salaries. More senior employees are eligible for incentives based on their performance against annual or multi-year goals for the operations they lead.
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 approximately 84,500 of our people.
With over 138,000 people in 107 countries, strong internal communication is essential. Some examples of our communications channels are:
- WPP’s public website (www.wpp.com), Group intranet site and professional knowledge communities.
- WPP’s annual journal of original thinking, the Atticus Journal; WPP’s multi-award winning global newspaper and eBook, The WIRE; regular FactFiles profiling specialist services and resources within the Group.
- WPP’s public monthly online news bulletin – e.wire.
- The WPP Reading Room, an extensive online library of thinkpieces (both public and original) from WPP professionals worldwide.
- Regular communication on Group initiatives such as the Worldwide Partnership Program, BrandZ™, the Atticus Awards, The WPPED Cream awards, the WPP Marketing Fellowship Program and professional development workshops.
- Periodic reports from Sir Martin Sorrell on topics of importance.
- Formal and informal meetings at operating company level.
- Our multi-award winning Annual Report & Accounts, financial statements and Corporate Responsibility Report are widely distributed across WPP and are available on our websites.
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 people 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
We recognise that our companies’ executives may be invited to become non-executive directors of other companies, and that such experience 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, the Group chief executive and chairman in the case of Board members and the approval of the Nomination Committee in the case of the chairman or Group chief executive. Any fees receivable out of such appointments may be retained by the individuals concerned.