In 2013, we reviewed our approach to supplier selection, simplifying our assessment and documentation requirements and aligning our supplier selection process with WPP’s anti-bribery and corruption policies.

As part of our supplier selection process, all WPP companies are expected to:

  • Conduct due diligence.
  • Assess operational, commercial and sustainability criteria.
  • Apply our anti-bribery and corruption policies.
  • Have suppliers read and sign the WPP Code of Business Conduct.
  • Include a right-to-audit clause in purchase orders where appropriate.

We piloted a supplier risk assessment process in partnership with Sedex, the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange, to better understand sustainability risks among advertising production suppliers in the UK and China.

We evaluate all potential new suppliers against a set of business requirements before they can become a WPP supplier. These include assurance of supply, quality, service, cost, innovation and sustainability. Our sustainability criteria cover six areas: policy, senior responsibility, materiality and issues identification, reporting, supply chain and anti-bribery and corruption.

Once selected, 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. These include requirements relating to labour practices (such as wages, anti-harassment and discrimination and health and safety), human rights (including no child, forced or bonded labour), social impacts (such as anti-bribery and corruption) as well as other sustainability criteria. In 2013, we launched an updated version of this Code which explains our expectations of suppliers (see our Code of Business Conduct).

Supplier monitoring pilot project

In 2013, we piloted a supplier risk assessment process in partnership with Sedex, the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange, to better understand sustainability risks among advertising production suppliers in the UK and China. The project was coordinated at Group level and involved our top four advertising networks (Grey, JWT, Ogilvy & Mather and Y&R). It is based on an approach used by many of our top clients, but we believe it is the first such project in the marketing services sector.

88%
of suppliers included in our pilot carry a medium sustainability risk as defined by Sedex

Suppliers were asked to complete a self-assessment questionnaire covering labour standards, health and safety, business ethics and environmental management, and to confirm that they have read and understood the WPP Code of Business Conduct.

Over 400 suppliers were contacted representing 80% of our advertising production spend in each country. Of these suppliers, 77% responded positively to our request for information and 40% provided us with complete responses. Responses were analysed using the Sedex risk tool, enabling us to assess the level of potential sustainability risk associated with each supplier.

Results show that the majority of suppliers carry a medium sustainability risk (as defined by Sedex) with overall risk levels relatively lower in the UK than in China. The advertising production supply chain is relatively fragmented with services provided primarily by small companies of up to 100 employees in size. In 2014, we will use the findings to establish a process for sustainability risk management among our top suppliers of advertising production services, starting with our biggest markets for ad production – the UK and the US. This will include:

  • Supplier workshops to provide basic training on our core requirements.
  • Management proficiency survey and guidance on practical steps needed to meet WPP’s Code of Business Conduct objectives.
  • Audits for selected higher risk suppliers.

Size and risk category of suppliers in the supplier risk assessment pilot

Size and risk category of suppliers in the pilot
  • China
  • UK

Note to chart: Most suppliers included in the pilot have less than 100 employees. Risk levels were found to be relatively lower in the UK than in China. The majority of advertising production suppliers carry a medium sustainability risk, as defined by Sedex.

We will implement this approach through The Bridge APB, WPP’s new advertising production initiative. In 2014, we will also assess other areas of our supply chain where sustainability risks may be high.

Chapter 6 of 10

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