Sustainability Report 2021

Blue background with multicoloured circles
31 MAR 2022

Sustainability Report 2021

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

The more we behave in line with our purpose, the better our business will perform

Mark Read CBE

Chief Executive Officer

Download Chief Executive’s Statement PDF 142 KB

2021 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 our 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?

  • 39% women in executive leadership (2020: 40%).
  • 52% women in senior management (2020: 51%).
  • 44,000 participants in virtual CEO virtual townhalls in 2021, part of a series of channels to connect with our people.
  • Industry Leader in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index for the fourth consecutive year.
  • 1,000 mid-level managers trained in inclusive leadership with the aim to train 40,000+ in 2022.
  • Unite, our Company-wide LGBTQ+ community, launched and helped to develop the LGBTQ+ inclusive marketing resource hub, to equip our people with the knowledge, skills and resources to create more inclusive marketing.

Download People PDF 6 MB


We support urgent action to tackle the climate crisis through the Paris Climate Agreement. WPP is a proud signatory to the UN Global Compact’s Business Ambition for 1.5°C, the purpose of which is to galvanise business support for strong climate action, and to the UNFCCC’s Race to Zero campaign.

By 2030, we want to be a net zero business, and to have played a role in helping our clients – and society – transition to a net zero economy.

We are focused on the role our companies can 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 (Scope 1 and 2) by 2025 and across our supply chain (Scope 3) by 2030, including emissions from media buying – an industry first.
  • Reducing absolute Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and absolute Scope 3 emissions – including media buying – by 50% by 2030, both from a 2019 base year.
  • 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.
  • Working with clients to stimulate action on climate change and the environment.

How are we doing?

  • 0.32 tonnes CO2e emissions per person from owned operations (scope 1 and 2), a 38% reduction year-on-year (2020: 0.52 tCO2e).
  • 74% of electricity from renewable sources (2020: 65%)
  • $2.5bn sustainability-linked revolving credit facility, a first step in embedding sustainability commitments within financing arrangements.
  • A- CDP climate change score, reflecting the ambition of our new net zero strategy and emissions-reduction targets (2020: B).

Download Planet PDF 2.1 MB
Download Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) statement PDF 71 KB
Download Carbon Emissions Data PDF 48 KB


The work we do for our clients reaches billions of people each year, presenting our greatest opportunity to create positive change.

From combatting climate change to tackling racial inequity, many brands are increasingly focused on how to ensure the targets and pledges they are making translate into tangible change. We have taken significant strides to support our clients in achieving their sustainability and diversity, equity & inclusion (DE&I) goals.

The work we do for our clients is powerful – it regularly changes attitudes, opinions and the way people behave. As it is critical that these changes are for the better, we are committed to acting ethically in all aspects of our business and to maintaining the highest standards of honesty and integrity. We work hard to maintain 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?

  • Sustainability Playbook launched, showcasing the diversity of our sustainability capability and innovative work.
  • Media Inclusion Initiative launched to direct investment in, and create opportunities for, diverse media companies and content creators with an initial focus on Black-owned media.
  • Sustainably Made content creation: we are investing in virtual technology and artificial intelligence to produce most of our film and content remotely, reducing travel and emissions.

Download Clients PDF 5 MB


We aim to use the power of our creativity and voice to support healthy and vibrant communities.

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).

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

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 focus areas

  • Encouraging our people to use their creativity and expertise to support the local causes they are passionate about, covering a range of issues from the arts, to conservation, health and human rights.
  • Partnering with the United Nations, including the World Health Organization and UN Women, to provide our skills in creativity, communications, data and technology to help effect positive change for society.
  • 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?

  • $9.3m in inclusion programmes as part of WPP’s commitment to invest $30m over 3 years in programmes to advance racial equity.
  • Since the start of the pandemic, we have partnered with the World Health Organization on a pro bono basis, helping them to deliver vital public health messages, combat misinformation and encourage people to get vaccinated, reaching tens of millions of people across 167 countries in more than 20 languages.
  • £257m wider social benefits of pro bono work, charitable donations and free media space in 2020 (2019: £649m).

Download Communities PDF 5.9 MB

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?

  • 100,000+ employees, freelancers and contractors completed ethics training in 2020.
  • UK’s first accelerator programme launched with MSDUK and Unilever, Google and Dow to help minority-owned businesses become supply chain ready.
  • 10,000 course enrolments through the WPP Artificial Intelligence Academy.

Download Responsible Business PDF 5.1 MB
Download Sustainability Committee Report PDF 86 KB

Client work