HONG KONG — FGS Global is investigating an open letter, purportedly sent by staff, that alleges the firm's Greater China leadership is hampered by "colonially-tinted discriminatory practices."

The letter was sent to FGS Global's global chairman Roland Rudd, Asia head Ben Richardson and all staff across the firm's Asia offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Singapore.

It focuses specifically on FGS Global's Greater China leadership, calling out a number of leaders in the Hong Kong and mainland China offices for "a self-perpetuating enclave of privilege, presenting significant obstacles to effective collaboration and strategic alignment." 

"It is our earnest belief that the management dysfunction, nepotism, and questionable practices exhibited by certain Greater China partners are having a profoundly negative impact on both the business and employee morale," reads the anonymous letter.

FGS Global's Asia business accounts for less than 10% of its $450m in global revenue, numbering 70 staff across three offices in Greater China, one in Singapore and one in Tokyo. The firm remains majority owned by WPP, although 30% was acquired by KKR in a deal that valued FGS Global at $1.43 billion.

In response to the letter, which makes a series of allegations about a "toxic work environment" that is out of touch with local culture, FGS Global is sending APMEA chair James Murgatroyd to listen to staff concerns at its Greater China offices. 

“We were disappointed to read the points raised in an anonymous email as we take any employee concerns with the utmost seriousness," said an FGS Global spokesperson. "None of these issues have been substantiated or raised with global leadership either directly or via our confidential right to speak helpline. We are taking this very seriously and our global head of HR is looking into these allegations and will be listening to views of our colleagues in the region.

“Our Asia region has been built up over more than a decade and now encompasses five offices and around 70 people, including a blend of colleagues with local and international expertise. It is our fastest growing region by revenue to date this year.”

International PR firms have struggled to grow in China in recent years, contributing to layoffs and reductions. FGS has let go of eight people from its Greater China operation, understood to be a mix of expats and local nationals. Industry leaders remain cautious about a revival, with few reporting a significant rebound in 2024. 

An FGS Global source told PRovoke Media that the identity of the letter's author(s) remains a mystery, but staff have been invited to discuss any issues they might have with senior management.