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Our CR Report at a glance

Corporate responsibility (CR) covers a wide range of issues. This report describes how we are responding to those we judge to be most significant and relevant to our business.

Significant issues

We focus our efforts on the issues we have identified as being most material (relevant and significant) to WPP. We consider five corporate responsibility issues to be of significance to WPP:

  1. The social and environmental impact of our work for clients.
  2. Marketing ethics, compliance with marketing standards, and protection of personal, consumer and corporate data and increasing transparency about our marketing practices.
  3. Employment, including diversity and equal opportunities, business ethics, employee development, remuneration, communication and health and safety.
  4. Social investment, including pro bono work, donations to charity and employee volunteering.
  5. Climate change, including the emissions from energy used in our offices and during business travel.

The impact of our work

Marketing and advertising sell products, ideas and lifestyle choices, educate the public and help change behaviour. Marketing can play an important role in helping to address social and environmental challenges by promoting more sustainable products and services and encouraging consumers to adopt more sustainable lifestyles.

The social and environmental impact of our client work is one of the most important elements of corporate responsibility for WPP.

This report profiles recent work by our companies in three areas:

  • Campaigns that promote our clients’ environmental, social or ethical credentials.
  • Social marketing work that influences public attitudes and behaviour, such as campaigns to raise awareness about avian flu.
  • Cause-related marketing campaigns that link brands to charities.

See our work in the Pro bono campaigns section.

Marketing standards

We expect our companies to apply high ethical standards in all their work for clients and particularly when marketing sensitive products such as alcohol or tobacco, or when creating advertising directed at children.

Privacy is becoming an increasingly important issue for our digital and research agencies as more consumer information is collected online and stored electronically.

The vast majority of campaigns produced by WPP companies do not give rise to complaints. Occasionally mistakes do occur and we report the cases we are aware of that were upheld by regulatory authorities in the Performance in 2007 table.


WPP employs 110,000 people (including associates) at 2,000 offices in 106 countries.

The success of our business depends on attracting and retaining the best people. It is the creativity and flair of our employees that makes our clients choose WPP companies. We offer competitive salaries and benefits, encourage diversity and invest in training to help our employees develop their knowledge and skills.

In 2007, we invested £38.6 million in training and wellbeing. Women accounted for 33% of board member/executive leaders, 47% of senior managers and 55% of total employees. There are currently three women on WPP’s Board.

See the Employment section.


Our CR policy commits us to minimise our impact on the environment. Climate change is our most significant environmental issue and we have set targets to reduce our CO2 emissions by 20% by 2010. We are implementing an energy-efficiency program in our real estate and IT functions and buying renewable electricity in some countries.

In 2007 WPP became carbon neutral by offsetting the rest of our emissions through renewable energy generation in developing countries.

See the Environment section.

Supply chain

WPP spends more than $3 billion with suppliers each year. Across all of our spend, we want to do business with suppliers that meet high standards on the environment and employment practices. We are committed to managing CR risks in our supply chain, both for ourselves and for our clients.

See the Our supply chain section.

Social investment

Our companies use their skills in advertising, marketing, PR and design to support good causes through pro bono accounts – work done for NGOs and charities for free or at minimal cost. This work is worth much more than an equivalent cash donation. Many NGOs do not have the experience, capacity or available funds to spend time on creative work which can help raise their profile, reach a greater audience and increase their funding. Effective communications can also help raise awareness on an issue and overcome stereotypical viewpoints.

In 2007, the total value of our social investment was £16.3 million compared with £24.9 million in 2006. This is equivalent to 0.3% of revenue (2% profit before tax), short of our annual guideline of up to 0.4%. This includes direct cash donations to charities of £3.5 million and £12.8 million of pro bono work. We calculate the value of pro bono work based on fees the organisation would have paid for our work.

Our media agencies also negotiated £1.5 million worth of free media space for charities.

This Report features examples of our pro bono work.

See the Social investment section.