WPP’s commitment to anti-racism

On 17 June 2020, WPP announced a set of commitments and actions to help combat racial injustice and support Black and minority ethnic talent. Read about our progress so far.

Our commitments

  1. We will take decisive action on each of the 12 points in the “Call For Change” open letter to the industry from more than 1,200 Black advertising professionals; complete a fundamental review of our hiring, retention, promotion and development practices; and publish our racial diversity data.
  2. We will use our voice to fight racism and advance the cause of racial equity in and beyond our industry.
  3. We will invest $30 million over the next three years to fund inclusion programmes within WPP and to support external organisations.

The 12 actions in the “Call For Change” letter range from investment in the career paths of Black employees and a measurable commitment to improving Black representation in senior management, to wage equity plans for people of colour and mandatory anti-racism training for leaders and HR employees. Our agencies have already taken or are in the process of taking many of the actions, but we will implement all 12 throughout WPP, on an accelerated timescale. This will include setting targets, tracking the progression of under-represented groups and publishing our racial diversity data. This work will be underpinned by a comprehensive review of our policies, processes and practices so that they elevate Black talent and never stifle it.

Our greatest impact is through the work we create, and we will use our platform to enlighten, educate and inspire action. We will engage with clients, partners, peers, industry bodies, event organisers and suppliers to ensure that Black and minority ethnic talent is fairly represented not only in the work but in our industry and wider networks. We will formally commit only to participate in events or panels where people of colour are represented, in line with the pledge WPP CEO Mark Read signed some time ago not to participate in male-only panels. We will also identify and put forward people of colour as speakers at events to proactively raise their visibility. We will review supplier diversity to give greater support to minority-owned businesses.

We will commit $10 million a year over the next three years to fund these programmes and to provide support for anti-racism charities. We will make donations, offer our services pro bono and work with our media partners to support charities and other organisations committed to fighting racism, developing minority talent and addressing issues that affect Black and ethnic minority communities. WPP will also match employee donations to charities selected in consultation with our WPP Roots steering committee up to $1,000 per person, to a total of $1 million.

Our new Global Inclusion Council will work with Mark Read and the WPP Executive Committee to ensure that the commitments above are met. Advising the Council will be a taskforce dedicated to advancing the opportunities and interests of Black colleagues specifically.

The leaders of WPP’s global agency networks have each signed up to these commitments and will be held accountable for delivering them within their businesses.

Announcing the commitments, Mark Read, CEO of WPP, said: “Over the last three weeks, I have heard an outpouring of pain, anger and frustration from Black colleagues, along with clear demands for change. This is the moment to embrace that change, and to use our creativity, our scale and our influence to make a difference in the fight against racism. WPP must support and elevate Black employees, and those from other under-represented groups, not as a diversity and inclusion initiative but as a business and moral imperative.”

Press release

Amplifying voices at WPP

Screenshot showing participants in panel discussion

26 Jul 2021

Dealing with unconscious bias in the boardroom

Essence and Campaign explore how to manage unconscious bias, ways to avoid tokenism and what makes for a good ally

Screenshot showing panellists during discussion

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GroupM's Kirk McDonald talks to Ad Age about business ethics and a new era of media built on diversity and inclusion

WPP’s Judy Jackson and UWG’s Monique Nelson

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Black agency leaders join forces to foster inclusion

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Lessons from the launch of Black Representation in Marketing

Wunderman Thompson's creative lead San Sharma shares key learnings from his campaign work

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Insights from Black History Month

WPP TV explores the role of diversity in fuelling greater creativity

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Ramadan and practising meaningful inclusivity

Ogilvy’s Shelina Janmohamed on how brands can move away from tick-box diversity projects

Colour-bravery

04 Jun 2020

Now is the time for colour bravery

Kantar's Melissa Hansberry outlines the different role brands can play

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