Workplace diversity enables us to better understand the interests and expectations of consumers in the many different countries we operate in. An inclusive workplace culture helps us to attract talented people from all backgrounds and to create an environment where they can do their best work.

Our non-discrimination policy, introduced in 1992, commits all WPP companies to select, develop and promote people based on merit and regardless of factors such as race, religion, national origin, colour, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age or disability. Policies on harassment and non-discrimination are included in our Code of Conduct.

Our people can report any concerns or suspected cases of discrimination or misconduct confidentially (and anonymously if desired) through our Right to Speak helpline.

The CEOs of our operating companies are ultimately responsible for diversity and inclusion. Many operating companies have appointed chief diversity officers or other senior managers to lead their efforts on diversity. We review our companies’ diversity programs as part of our annual talent review process.

All of our major companies 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. In the US, these include Diversity Best Practices; The Leadership, Education and Development Program in Business; The National Black Public Relations Society; National Association of Black Journalists; National Association of Hispanic Journalists; City College of New York; the LAGRANT Foundation and the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ (AAAA) Operation Success.
  • Internships and school programs: in the US 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. In many countries our companies have developed partnerships with local schools to encourage students from a wider range of backgrounds to consider a career in communications services.
  • Targeted recruitment: to help diversify their recruitment pools, many of our companies use specialist recruitment agencies and publications and attend minority recruitment fairs. A number of agencies have established diversity recruitment plans. For example, Millward Brown North America implemented a diversity recruitment plan in 2007 which has helped it to increase workplace diversity.
  • Communication and training: our companies use training and awareness campaigns to help employees understand the importance and business benefits of diversity and inclusion. For example, GroupM organises ‘Respect in the Workplace’ seminars that provide direction and guidelines regarding how employees should treat each other and help to create a friendly and professional work environment. Ogilvy in North America hosts mandatory ‘Diversity & Inclusion: Our Competitive Advantage’ training for employees, and a range of other courses such as ‘Effectively Managing Diverse Teams’ and ‘Managing Generational Diversity’. The company’s 20-person employee diversity council helps the agency to develop its diversity strategy and engage with employees on diversity-related issues. Diversity and inclusion is included in WPP’s online ethics training. We also provide focused training and mentoring to help women and diverse employees progress to senior positions. For example, ‘X Factor’, is our senior management mentoring and development program for women executives led by Charlotte Beers, formerly global CEO of Ogilvy & Mather and chairman of JWT. So far, 36 women have completed the program.


female Board members in 2010

(2009: 32%)

WPP is one of just 10 FTSE 100 companies where women make up more than 20% of Board members. WPP’s CEO, Sir Martin Sorrell was invited to take part in a debate on gender diversity with other business leaders during the World Economic Forum in 2010. Entitled ‘Why Sex Matters’, the discussion was broadcast on CNBC, and explored the case for increasing gender equality in the boardroom. Following on from this, WPP is participating in The Gender Equality Project to help establish a new methodology for assessing progress on gender equality in the workplace. It is hoped this will lead to development of a new global certification system. Ogilvy & Mather has been piloting the assessment methodology during 2010.

We provide additional support for disabled employees where appropriate and, where existing employees become disabled, our policy is to provide continuing employment and training wherever practicable. For example, Genesis Burson-Marsteller in India has introduced specialist software to make it easier for employees who are blind or visually impaired to work at the company.