Progress against our anti-racism commitments
On 17 June 2020, WPP announced a series of commitments to tackle racism and invest in Black talent.
Below is a summary of the progress we have made against these commitments and the investment we continue to make.
COMMITMENT #1: We will take decisive action on each of the 12 points in 600 & Rising’s “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.
1. Make a specific, measurable, and public commitment to improve Black representation at all levels of agency staffing, especially senior and leadership positions.
WPP has acknowledged that we need to improve Black representation at all levels of the company, especially at senior and leadership levels. We launched our diverse slate policy in 2020 as one concrete step towards this goal and have undertaken a review of our hiring practices and policies to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion are systematically embedded throughout (details below in points 5, 6 and 8). We have grown our network of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) leaders across our agencies, highlighting our commitment to sustained momentum. These leaders, along with our other champions of DE&I across our operating companies, continue to help us drive and accelerate the change we need to see.
2. Track and publicly report workforce diversity data on an annual basis to create accountability for the agency and the industry.
In July 2020, we released our US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission data from 2018 (the EEOC suspended collection in 2019 due to COVID-19). In line with the racial equity commitments we made in June 2020 and for the first time, the 2020 Sustainability Report, which was published at the end of April, includes our workforce diversity data for the US (2018-2020) and UK (2020 only).
It is not a legal requirement to publish this data, but we are doing so in the interest of transparency and to drive accountability, and we will continue to do so on an annual basis.
The story our data tells is clear: we still have a great deal of work to do. To deliver on our commitments, and remain focused on actions that make an impact, we have embedded DE&I goals and best practices into everything we do. The leaders of WPP’s global agency networks have each signed up to these actions and will be held accountable for delivering progress against them within their businesses.
We will continue to focus on the hiring, retention, and promotion of people from under-represented ethnic groups at all levels across WPP.
3. Audit agency policies and culture to ensure the environment we work in is more equitable and inclusive to a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives.
We launched our quarterly Pulse this year, a new, dynamic survey that forms part of our WPP Listening programme, designed to provide people with the chance to give honest, unfiltered feedback on everything about their experience as an employee within the WPP network. While we launched in our five largest markets, we will be including more markets throughout 2021. Each Pulse includes an Inclusion Index, so we can track progress in building more inclusive workplaces.
4. Provide extensive bias training to HR employees and all levels of management.
Our People teams and leaders around the world have received – and will continue to receive – training on anti-bias and to help them have difficult conversations about race in the workplace. In December 2020, we also launched our mandatory Belonging at WPP inclusion training for all staff globally, and we have created more space for honest conversations – from our Safe Room series to our Conscious Inclusion training programme – all to raise awareness of unconscious biases.
5. Extend agency outreach to a more diverse representation of colleges, universities and art schools.
We have expanded our talent recruiting platforms to include over 300 sites, including HBCU alumni networks and other diverse groups. To embed DE&I into our hiring processes, in September 2020 we launched our diverse candidate slate policy in the US and UK. Our recruiters are actively seeking to present diverse candidates to their Hiring Managers by ensuring that:
- Roles are marketed and accessible to candidates from diverse backgrounds.
- Under-represented groups are targeted, for example, through marketing to professional networks for those groups.
- Job descriptions are created in an inclusive way that doesn’t exclude or deter certain groups from applying.
We are already seeing improvements in our senior executive diverse hiring as a result of this policy.
We launched TapRecruit in February 2020 to improve the fairness of our hiring process by creating more inclusive job descriptions and attract more qualified and diverse talent pools. Among other things, the tool provides guidance around inclusive language and content via augmented writing, so our hiring teams can write job descriptions that encourage qualified candidates to apply regardless of their gender, ethnicity or background.
6. Expand residencies and internship programmes to candidates with transferable skills who may not have taken a traditional educational path toward advertising.
In June 2020, we launched a new 10-week virtual learning series for recent graduates and early-career talent called NextGen Leaders and worked in partnership with over 300 non-profits, colleges and universities, including several HBCUs to ensure a diverse cohort, resulting in 50% of the 850 participants being people of colour.
We are using our Racial Equity Fund to expand relationships with organizations such as The LAGRANT Foundation and The One Club for Creativity, both of which focus on supporting young Black talent in our industry.
In the UK, we have established a WPP/Brixton Finishing School/UNinvisibility Project, which launched in May 2021, and aims to offer opportunities for a future-proofed, digital career to mid-life women and women of colour who are traditionally under-represented in this field.
We participated in the first career fair with AKA, a sorority of over 90,000 Black women in North America.
We have partnered with Adfellows, sponsored by Verizon, a fellowship programme designed to address the gap in diversity in our industry by creating a space for new players.
7. Create, fund, and support employee resource groups (ERGs) for Black employees.
We have historically had a vibrant global ERG community, including dozens of active ERGs across our companies. WPP Roots is a professional network run by individuals who are passionate about championing greater ethnic and cultural diversity within the advertising industry, our agencies and our work. In order to better support our ERGs, our People team has created an ERG “best practices” handbook with the goal of encouraging and supporting ERG formation. We are also continuing work to explore our ERG funding models.
8. Invest in management and leadership training, as well as mentorship, sponsorship, and other career development programmes for Black employees.
We have implemented and are expanding a number of learning and development opportunities for our employees of colour.
- Our year-long Elevate sponsorship programme is designed for high-potential Black female employees in the US across our agencies with the goal of providing personal and professional development to support and strengthen leadership capabilities.
- Our cross-agency sponsorship programme in the UK is designed for high-performing, mid-career people of colour to help unlock opportunities, fill experience gaps, and build advanced craft skills through a relationship with senior leaders. Our goal is to expand this 12-18-month virtual programme to the US in 2021.
- Our new Sayge coaching programme will provide a three-month individualised career coaching programme for mid-level employees, with initial focus on Black and other employees of colour in the US and UK.
- We are have entered into our first partnership with The Executive Leadership Council (ELC), a national organization comprising current and former Black CEOs and senior executives at Fortune 1000 and Global 500 companies. ELC works to build an inclusive business leadership pipeline, opening channels of opportunity for the development of Black executives to positively impact business and communities. In partnership with ELC, we are investing in new leadership development opportunities for our Black US-based managers in order to help us continue to build a more diverse leadership pipeline at WPP.
- More than 20 Black leaders from across our agencies participated in the McKinsey Leadership Program in 2020; in 2021, 65 of our Black employees are participating in McKinsey’s Manager Accelerator Program and 29 of our Black employees are participating in the Leadership Development Program.
9. Require all leadership to be active participants in company diversity and inclusion initiatives and tie success in those initiatives to bonus compensation.
To underline the importance of our commitments and to ensure accountability, we have committed to including diversity and inclusion goals in the annual bonus plans of our leadership across WPP. These will be included within bonus plans for the 2021 calendar year, and progress made against those goals will be reviewed on a regular basis.
10. Create a diversity and inclusion committee, made up of Black and NBPOC employees, to inform the development of our policies.
We have established our Global Inclusion Council to advise WPP’s CEO and Executive Committee on appropriate DE&I goals, recommend new systems and strategies, and identify barriers to progress. We also established a taskforce to give particular focus to the challenges facing our Black colleagues and communities in North America.
11. Establish a diversity review panel to stem the spread of stereotypes in creative work and ensure offensive or culturally insensitive work is never published.
We established our Diversity Review Panel in January 2021 for our people to raise any concerns regarding negative stereotypes in our work so we can ensure an inclusive approach to creativity.
12. Introduce a wage equity plan to ensure that Black women, Black men and people of colour are being compensated fairly.
We have started to build the plan and engaged third party specialists to work with us on this.
COMMITMENT #2: We will use our voice to fight racism and advance the cause of racial equity in and beyond our industry.
Because of our platform and voice, WPP can also spark change far beyond our company through our work for clients and communities.
We have established a Diversity Review Subcommittee whose mandate is to prevent negative and harmful stereotypes in creative work and to help us ensure that we never publish offensive or culturally insensitive work. The subcommittee is chaired by Lindsay Pattison, our Chief Client Officer, consisting of members across EMEA, LATAM, North America and APAC, all of whom are also members of the Global Inclusion Council. In July 2020, we issued WPP’s Commitment to Inclusiveness, Diversity and Anti-Racism in our Work, which includes our commitment to ensure that we do not perpetuate harmful, negative stereotypes in the content we create.
In collaboration with UniWorld, we created the Inclusive Marketing Playbook in December 2020 to enable WPP teams to put inclusive marketing principles and best practice front and centre when it comes to communications, marketing and new business projects.
These actions – combined with the creativity of all our people – helps us leverage our scale and influence to advance racial justice.
Advancing racial equity through our work
Below are a few of the highlights – visit www.wpp.com/featured/work for more examples.
- WPP’s Grey and Cartwright created P&G’s The Choice.
- WPP supported the launch of the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation with more than £1.3m in donated media via GroupM and our media partners.
- WPP Roots and Ogilvy Roots created a pro bono campaign for Black Pound Day to actively encourage shoppers to support Black-owned business on the first Saturday of every month. This launched during Black History Month UK.
- P&G’s Widen the Screen, created by Grey, aims to support Black creators and show the full picture of Black life.
- Girl Up wanted to capture the historic event of Kamala Harris’s inauguration, as seen through the eyes of young girls across America so Ogilvy teamed up to create Today We Rise, a film edited in record time and launched online just five hours after the ceremony.
- Wunderman Thompson Brazil worked with Avon to launch This Is My Color, a campaign to introduce a new cosmetic colour palette inclusive of the widest possible range of Black skin tones in Brazil.
- In partnership with Allyship & Action, Ogilvy has donated talent, time, and media to help raise awareness about the issue of maternal mortality in the black community.
COMMITMENT #3: We will invest $30 million over three years to fund inclusion programmes within WPP and to support external organisations.
Improving retention, growth and promotion strategies for our talent of colour is a core focus. Our first WPP-wide investment in this area is focused on broadening access to a more diverse talent pipeline through formal partnerships with the following organisations in the US and the UK:
- The One Club for Creativity
- The LAGRANT Foundation
- Brixton Finishing School
- Rare Recruitment
As part of our $30 million commitment, we are also offering an employee donation match programme up to $1,000 per person, to a total of $1 million. WPP will match personal donations by employees to non-profit organisations in support of our commitment to fighting racism, developing talent from under-represented groups and addressing issues that affect Black communities. WPP employees can visit insideWPP for further information.