Maja Pawinska Sims 17 Jun 2020 // 4:31PM GMT
LONDON — WPP has announced a set of commitments to help combat racial injustice and support Black and minority ethnic talent, including investing $30 million to fund inclusion programmes within WPP and to provide support for anti-racism charities.
In a statement, WPP said the leaders of all its global agency networks – which include Ogilvy, BCW, H+K Strategies and Finsbury – have signed up to the commitments and “will be held accountable for delivering them within their businesses.”
The funding pledge is to commit $10 million a year over the next three years, including donations, offer pro bono services and working 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 its WPP Roots steering committee up to $1,000 per person, to a total of $1 million.
In addition, the holding group has committed to taking 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, to complete a review of its hiring, retention, promotion and development practices; and to publish its racial diversity data.
The 12 actions in the 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.
WPP's most recent Sustainability Report does not report the group's diversity stats. The holding group's 11-person board currently includes one person of colour, while its 19-members executive committee features two, including Grey CEO Michael Houston — one of the few African-Americans to lead a major advertising agency.
WPP said: “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.”
The third commitment is to “use our voice to fight racism and advance the cause of racial equality in and beyond our industry.” WPP’s statement said: “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.”
As part of this, the group’s agencies will now only participate in events or panels where people of colour are represented, and will identify and put forward people of colour as speakers at events. WPP will also review supplier diversity to give greater support to minority-owned businesses.
The group has also set up a Global Inclusion Council, which will work with Mark Read and the WPP Executive Committee to ensure that the commitments are met. The council will be advised by a taskforce dedicated to advancing the opportunities and interests of Black employees.
WPP CEO Mark Read 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.”
In a tweet announcing the commitments, he added: “Thank you to the thousands of people who took part in our safe room conversations, and many others inc the WPP Roots team whose contributions have shaped these commitments."