WPP releases U.S. diversity data in staff memo from CEO Mark Read
WPP CEO Mark Read released the holding company's U.S. staff diversity makeup data in an email to employees on Thursday and announced the appointment of an inclusion council and taskforce "to give particular focus to the challenges facing our Black colleagues and communities in North America."
This comes as an update to the holding company's previous commitment to taking "decisive action on each of the 12 points in the 'Call for Change'" open letter from 600 & Rising. Announced on Juneteenth, WPP also said at the time it would be investing $30 million over the next three years to fund inclusion programs within the holding company and support external organizations fighting racism.
Read said in his Thursday memo that, "in the past, there has not been a single, consistent approach to the collection of this [diversity] data across our different agencies and markets, nor has it been independently audited—which typically we require of all data we report as a public company. We are working urgently on a more robust, centralized system of gathering and reporting ethnicity data (in those markets where we are allowed to collect it), which we will publish annually in our Sustainability Report," he said.
"However, in the interests of transparency and timeliness," Read said WPP is sharing "the information we do have for the U.S. now."
According to Thursday's memo, 2.2 percent of WPP's U.S. senior and executive-level managers, 4.1 percent of all mid-level managers, 6.4 percent of professionals, and 6.2 percent of all employees are Black or African American. WPP reported 5.7 percent of U.S. senior and executive-level managers, 9.9 percent of mid-level managers, 15 percent of professionals and 11.7 percent of all employees are Asian.
Per the email, 5.8 percent of WPP's U.S. senior and executive-level managers, 9.3 percent of mid-level managers, 8.7 percent of professionals and 9.4 percent of all employees are Hispanic or Latinx. WPP reported 85 percent of U.S. senior and executive-level managers, 74.8 percent of mid-level managers, 67 percent of professionals and 70.2 percent of all employees are white.
Read said in the email that those figures pertain to WPP's "most recent submission to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission," which was in 2018. He said that is because the EEOC "suspended the collection of 2019 data due to COVID-19, and it predates the sale of Kantar and much of the restructuring that has happened within the business in the last two years."
"Despite the data’s limitations, the story it tells is clear enough: we have a huge amount of work to do to," Read wrote. "We are starting to make progress on the actions advocated by 600 & Rising, alongside our wider commitments."
He said, per the email, among the recent actions WPP has taken to tackle systemic racism are: "Reached out to a more diverse range of educational institutions and candidates who may not have taken a traditional route to our industry"; "Rolled out new mandatory anti-racism and inclusion training for all our HR people and leaders"; and "Engaged with our biggest clients to drive change together."
"Various other workstreams are underway to ensure we address all of our commitments, and we will continue to update you on their progress," Read said, adding a reminder to employees that WPP would be "matching employee donations to charities and nonprofits committed to fighting racism, up to $1,000 per person, to a total of $1 million."
Read also explained the appointment of WPP's new taskforce and inclusion council. The taskforce, he said, "includes WPP employees of different levels of seniority, based in cities across North America, and will have input from external organizations such as the 3 Percent Movement, the Advertising Club of New York and Fishbowl."
He said the taskforce will "be important partners to the Inclusion Council, which will help us to decide which initiatives to support as part of our financial commitment to fight racism."
The members of the inclusion council are:
Ajaz Ahmed, CEO of AKQA
Mai Azmy, managing director of Wunderman Thompson Egypt
Karen Blackett, CEO of GroupM U.K. and WPP U.K. country manager
Yolanta Boti, a creative at Ogilvy U.K.
Jacqui Canney, chief people officer of WPP
HS Chung, president of H&K Asia
Brian Ellner, executive VP of growth and marketing at BCW North America
Michael Houston, global CEO of Grey
Demet Ikiler, CEO of GroupM EMEA and WPP Turkey country manager
Kevin Johnson, CEO of MediaCom Canada
Renee Lavecchia, executive director of VMLY&R Miami
Christina Mallon, global head of inclusive design and accessibility at Wunderman Thompson
Kyoko Matsushita, global CEO of Essence
Andre Passamani, CEO of Mutato
Lindsay Pattison, chief client officer of WPP
Lwandile Qokweni, CEO of Wavemaker South Africa
Stacey Ryan-Cornelius, global chief financial officer and chief operating officer of Geometry
CVL Srinivas, WPP India country manager
Selina Teng, president of Ogilvy Beijing
Stan Woodland, president and CEO of CMI