Sustainability Report 2020

Sustainability Report header with lots of WPP people's faces in circles
29 APR 2021

Sustainability Report 2020

We use the power of creativity to build better futures for our people, planet, clients and communities.

We are working closely with our clients as they endeavour to live up to their purpose

Mark Read CBE

Chief Executive Officer

Download Chief Executive’s Statement PDF 107 KB

2020 summary

At WPP we use the power of creativity to build better futures for our people, planet, clients and communities.

We advise clients on sustainability issues and we take action in our business to improve our own performance.

Read about out people strategy, how we’re cutting our carbon footprint and working towards net zero emissions, how we support our clients on their sustainability journeys, how we invest in communities, and how we play our part in progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals through our client and pro bono work.


We know that our people are our Company. As we transform and help our clients to do the same, we need three key attributes: a clear purpose; a set of values that guide us; and a strong strategy for growth. All three come together in our people.

Diversity and difference power creativity – from sex, gender, race and ethnicity to sexual orientation, age, religion, disability, family status and so much more. To succeed, we are seeking out people who can bring more of these different perspectives to our client work, which is why we are partnering with organisations such as Brixton Finishing School, RARE recruitment, the One Club For Creativity and adfellows.

Talent is the life force of WPP. When we ask our people what they want, opportunities to grow and learn rank near the top. That is why we invest in new hires, training and skills development, to help us compete and to grow our people, teams and business.

Our focus areas

  • Becoming the employer of choice for all, fostering an inclusive culture that is equitable and respectful of diverse thoughts and individual expression.
  • Attracting, retain and grow the most talented, creative and inspired people on the planet.
  • We aim to create a work experience based on our values, where people are open to new ideas; optimistic about the future; and empowered to do extraordinary work.
  • Investing in skills and creating opportunities for our people to collaborate, learn, develop and grow.
  • Offering attractive compensation and working practices.
  • Engaging with and listening to our people.
  • Supporting our people’s physical and mental health and wellbeing.

How are we doing?

  • 40% women in executive leadership (2019: 37%).
  • 51% women in senior management (2019: 50%).
  • 28 CEO virtual townhalls in 2020, with over 39,000 total participants, part of a series of new channels to connect with our people.
  • New commitments announced in June 2020 to advance racial equity.
  • Industry Leader in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index.

Download People PDF 2.8 MB


We support urgent action to tackle the climate crisis and aim to reach net zero carbon emissions across our value chain by 2030. We are a proud signatory to the UN Global Compact’s Business Ambition for 1.5°C.

We recognise that modern lifestyles and demand for goods have contributed significantly to the climate crisis and environmental degradation. We also know the threat these impacts pose to global social and economic development. Advertising has undoubtedly played a role in fuelling consumerism – but we are excited about the part it can now play in promoting low-impact and regenerative living.

We want to partner with clients to help deliver against their goals. We know that collaboration with clients and suppliers will be critical in delivering against our own targets.

Our focus areas

  • Achieving net zero in our own operations by 2025 and across our supply chain by 2030, including emissions from media spend – an industry first.
  • Sourcing 100% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2025.
  • Reducing waste and improving resource efficiency.
  • Phasing out single-use plastics that cannot be reused, recycled or composted from our 3,000+ offices by the end of 2021.
  • Working with clients to stimulate action on climate change and the environment.
  • Supporting the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and assessing our exposure and resilience to climate risk.

How are we doing?

  • 0.52 tonnes CO2e emissions per person from owned operations (scope 1 and 2), a 37% reduction year-on-year (2019: 0.82 tCO2e).
  • 75% completed Campus projects certified to advanced green building standards (equivalent to LEED Gold or above).
  • 65% of electricity from renewable sources (2019: 37%)
  • 100% of electricity from renewable sources in Canada, the UK and most European markets for the first time.
  • Founding Member of AdGreen, an industry initiative to eliminate the negative environmental impacts of advertising production.

Download Planet PDF 1.4 MB
Download Carbon Emissions Data PDF 41 KB


The work we do has the power to shift opinion and change behaviour, supporting our clients to deliver their sustainability goals.

We are working closely with our clients as they adapt to the impacts of the pandemic and endeavour to live up to their purpose. While challenging, today’s landscape also offers major opportunities to create new markets for more inclusive and sustainable products and services.

Marketing is powerful – it can change attitudes and behaviour. It is critical that we apply high ethical standards to our work to ensure those changes are for the better. We work hard to maintain high standards and strong compliance in areas such as ethics, human rights, privacy and data security.

Our focus areas

  • Supporting clients to create brands with purpose and integrate sustainability and diversity, equity and inclusion into our work.
  • Combining the latest technology alongside creativity and sustainability expertise to help clients inspire consumers and help shift behaviour to more sustainable norms.
  • Meeting high ethical standards in our client work.

How are we doing?

  • Diversity Review Panel established to escalate concerns around potentially offensive or culturally insensitive work.
  • Inclusive marketing Playbook launched to put inclusive marketing principles and best practice at the heart of our work.
  • Community Private Marketplace (PMP) launched to financially support Black journalism and community voices.
  • Global partnership with SuperAwesome to promote child safety while engaging with online content.

Download A Stronger Offer For Our Clients PDF 1.4 MB


We aim to give creativity back at scale. The work we do has the power to bring about change – in the way people feel, the way they think, and the way they behave.

We can help boost the impact of charities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) by providing marketing and creative services, often on a pro bono basis (for little or no fee).

This work is mutually rewarding. While enabling our voluntary sector clients to raise money and awareness, recruit members and achieve campaign objectives, pro bono work also provides opportunities for our people to work on fulfilling, impactful and sometimes award-winning campaigns that raise the profile of our companies.

Our pro bono work and social investment can also support progress toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Our focus areas

  • Providing pro bono creative services to organisations working on health (including the fight against Covid-19), diversity, equity and inclusion (including racial equity), education, human rights, arts and the environment.
  • Negotiating free media space for charity campaigns, enabling them to reach a wide audience.
  • Encouraging our people to volunteer their time and skills.

How are we doing?

  • $30m to be invested over three years to fund inclusion programmes within WPP and support external organisations as part of a series of commitments to advance the cause of racial equity.
  • $45m in free media space and pro bono work secured and delivered to help the World Health Organization reach the public with vital communications promoting social distancing and good hygiene.
  • £649m wider social benefits of pro bono work, charitable donations and free media space in 2020 (2019: £291m).

Download Investing in Communities PDF 868 KB

Responsible business

We can reduce risks to our business and clients by establishing clear policies and procedures in areas such as data security, ethical conduct, supply chain management, and human rights, and by being transparent about our progress.

We set clear standards, policies and procedures to ensure high levels of transparency and trust throughout our business.

We are committed to creating an inclusive, sustainable, ethical, and diverse supplier network of business-enabling vendors.

Respect for human rights is a fundamental principle for WPP. We aim to prevent, identify and address any negative impacts on human rights associated with our business activities.

Our focus areas

  • Embedding ethical standards including clear policies, compliance processes and mandatory ethics training.
  • Setting clear standards for suppliers and communicating these to our suppliers.
  • Conducting due diligence to identify risks in our supply chain.
  • Working with suppliers to reduce modern slavery risks in our supply chain.
  • Using our Data Health Checker to review privacy risks and data security practices in our businesses.

How are we doing?

  • 95,000+ people completed ethics training in 2020.
  • New modules on sustainability and business integrity included in our How We Behave ethics training.
  • Supplier Diversity Programme relaunched to encourage WPP and our agencies to buy from Certified Diverse Suppliers.

Download Responsible Business PDF 922 KB
Download Sustainability Committee Report PDF 92 KB

Our expertise, creativity and ability to shift opinion and change behaviour can help to build a more sustainable and equitable world

David Henderson

Global Corporate Affairs Director, WPP

Headshot of David Henderson, Global Corporate Affairs Director, WPP

Key areas of focus in 2020


WPP's Covid-19 economic and social impact

Since the beginning of the outbreak, we have mobilised our teams to use our creativity to help fight the virus and offer support to our communities, people and clients around the world.

Download WPP's Covid-19 Economic and Social Impact PDF 48 KB

Net zero by 2030

WPP has been actively reducing the carbon emissions produced by our operations since 2006. We are now setting targets that increase the rate of reduction to go beyond the required carbon reductions outlined in the Paris Agreement.

Find out more about our net zero commitment

Net Zero

Diversity, equity and inclusion

In June 2020, we announced a series of commitments designed to use our creativity, our scale and our influence to tackle racism and invest in Black talent.

Download Diversity, Equity and Inclusion PDF 274 KB

Client work