Sustainability management

Paul Richardson, WPP’s Group finance director, is the Board director responsible for corporate sustainability. Reflecting our decentralised structure, the practical work of implementation is devolved to WPP companies around the world, with strategic direction and policy principles – notably the WPP Code of Conduct and Group Sustainability Policy – set at Group level.

Our Sustainability Committee, chaired by Paul Richardson, is made up of senior representatives from our companies and Group functions. The committee meets annually to review progress on a variety of sustainability issues.

Our central sustainability function develops strategy and coordinates data collection. It communicates on sustainability matters on behalf of the Group and works with Group functions (such as our talent team, legal, real estate, IT and procurement). The head of sustainability reports directly to the Group finance director.

Risk and opportunity

Sustainability risks – including social, environmental and ethical risks – are integrated into the Group’s risk identification, management and monitoring processes. This includes:

  • Annual assessment of sustainability risks and performance presented by the Group finance director at the AGM.
  • Brand Check – a review of WPP business operations and risk profiles presented by the Group chief executive at Board meetings.
  • Selected internal audits which may cover sustainability risks.
  • Due diligence during acquisitions – a review of risks relating to bribery and corruption or ethical issues associated with client work. We have a process to make sure that acquired businesses embed our policies and undertake our ethics training.

Improving our sustainability performance creates opportunities for WPP and our companies. It generates new revenue streams associated with sustainability-related marketing and results in cost efficiencies.

Data and reporting

WPP companies report their sustainability data to the parent company quarterly through our Group financial reporting system. Data in this section covers the period from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2013. We will publish our 12th social and environmental performance report (Sustainability Report) in June 2014, with selected environmental and employment data externally assured by Bureau Veritas.

We undertook a formal materiality assessment in January 2014, to enable us to prioritise the issues we cover in our reporting. This reflects the views of WPP senior management and our stakeholders and the results are explained in our Sustainability Report.

Stakeholder engagement

We engage with our stakeholders – including clients, investors and our people – to communicate what we are doing and identify potential improvements to the way we manage sustainability issues.

We receive regular requests for information from clients on our approach to sustainability and we collaborate with them on topics of common interest.

We engage with investors and rating agencies such as Amundi, Chevreux, Dow Jones Sustainability Index, Ethibel, FTSE4Good, Natixis, oekom, Trucost and Vigeo on sustainability issues. To raise investor awareness of our activities, we submit this section of our Annual Report for share owner voting at our AGM. We are included in the DJSI World and Europe Indices and the FTSE4Good Index. We participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and received a score of 95B in 2013. We are listed in the CDP FTSE 350 Climate Disclosure Leadership Index.

Human rights

We aim to respect human rights wherever we operate in line with the principles of the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Labour Organisation’s fundamental conventions on core labour standards and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Our Code of Business Conduct, which applies to all WPP employees, companies and suppliers, states our commitment to respect human rights. It sets requirements for both our own potential human rights impacts in areas such as non-discrimination and labour practices as well as those potentially associated with our work for clients. Our most senior managers and all our business partners and suppliers are asked to sign a copy of the WPP Code of Business Conduct to confirm they will abide by its principles.

We comply with all relevant sanctions regimes.

Our companies create pro bono campaigns for several human rights organisations. See our Pro Bono Book for examples.

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