The work we do and the clients we work for can raise ethical issues. Examples include work for governments or clients in sensitive countries or sectors, and marketing for sensitive or controversial products. We need to help our people make decisions about new commissions that reflect our standards, and to avoid ethical risks to WPP and our clients.

Our ethics training includes scenarios to help employees identify ethical risks associated with client work, and raise awareness about referral procedures.

WPP companies have a review and referral process for work that may present an ethical risk. Before accepting potentially-sensitive work, employees are required to elevate the decision to the most senior person in the relevant office and then to the most senior executive of the WPP company in the country concerned, who will decide if further referral to a WPP executive is required.

Companies also have their own procedures, including copy checking and clearance processes through which campaigns are reviewed by the legal team before publication. Requirements are particularly comprehensive in sectors such as pharmaceutical marketing that are highly regulated.

Our ethics training includes scenarios to help employees identify ethical risks associated with client work, and raise awareness about referral procedures. We have also undertaken face-to-face training on issues such as intellectual property and copy clearance with some of our companies. Depending on scope, internal audits may incorporate a review of the consideration given by management to possible impacts on the Group’s reputation prior to accepting new clients.

120,000
employees completed our ethics training

We have a Group-level committee that meets at least quarterly to discuss cases of concern, potential compliance issues and new risk areas. Committee members include the Group chief counsel, compliance officer, Group finance director, the head of talent and the head of sustainability. The committee also reviews potential client-related risks such as bribery and corruption, data privacy and competition rules.

A very small number of the campaigns we produce give rise to complaints, some of which are upheld by authorities. We monitor complaints and take action where needed to prevent a recurrence.

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