Our CR Report at a glance

Corporate responsibility (CR) covers a wide range of issues. This report describes how we are
responding to those we judge to be most significant and relevant to our business.

CR at WPP  

Managing social, ethical and environmental risks to our business and capitalising on new opportunities helps us achieve our business goals and enhances our reputation with clients, employees, regulators and investors.

We focus our efforts on the issues that are most material (relevant and significant) to WPP. These are:

  • The social and environmental impact of our work for clients.
  • Marketing ethics, compliance with marketing standards, and protection of personal, consumer and corporate data and increasing transparency about our marketing practices.
  • Employment, including diversity and equal opportunities, business ethics, employee development, remuneration, communication and health and safety.
  • Social investment, including pro bono work, donations to charity and employee volunteering.
  • Climate change, including the emissions from energy used in our offices and during business travel.

Our approach reflects our decentralised group structure, with many CR issues managed at operating company level. Our Group CR function determines CR policy, monitors risks and opportunities and coordinates collection of CR data.

-> See CR at WPP


The impact of our work  

The social and environmental impact of the work we undertake for clients is one of our most important CR issues. Our goal is for WPP to be a centre of excellence for environmental and social communication.

Leading companies are embedding ethical values in their brands and developing products with a reduced social or environmental footprint. They need effective marketing to communicate the social and environmental benefits and make these new products desirable to the mass market.

This report profiles recent work by our companies in three areas:

  • Campaigns that promote our clients’ environmental, social or ethical credentials.
  • Social marketing work that influences public attitudes and behaviour, such as campaigns to raise awareness about obesity and drink-driving.
  • Cause-related marketing campaigns that link brands to charities.
-> See The impact of our work


Marketing ethics  

Marketing is a powerful tool with the potential to change opinions and influence behaviour. It is essential this influence is used responsibly and in a way that protects consumers and supports human rights. As a minimum our businesses are expected to comply with all laws, regulations and codes of marketing practice.

Privacy and data security are increasingly important issues for our companies which collect and use consumer data to target digital advertising and direct marketing campaigns.

Where we operate, who we work for and the type of work we undertake can also give rise to ethical issues.

We are strengthening our approach to managing work-related risks.

-> See Marketing ethics



WPP employs 135,000 people (including employees at our associate companies) at 2,400 offices in 107 countries.

Our people are our business. Clients choose WPP companies because we employ the best. Attracting and retaining talent is a central business issue for WPP. Our approach includes competitive remuneration, investment in training and development and a commitment to an inclusive workplace culture.

In 2008, we invested £42.6 million in training and wellbeing compared with £38.6 million in 2007. Women accounted for 32% of board members/executive leaders, 47% of senior managers and 54% of total employees. Our companies have programs to promote ethnic diversity.

-> See Employment



We are committed to reducing our impact on the environment. Climate change is our priority and we have set a target to reduce our CO2 emissions by 20% by 2010 from 2006 levels. So far, we have achieved a 10.5% reduction against our baseline.

We are reducing our emissions by:

  • Improving the efficiency of our buildings and IT.
  • Purchasing renewable electricity where available.
  • Reducing the number of intra-office flights.

We have established Energy Action Teams in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America. Their job is to identify energy-saving measures and provide technical guidance to our agencies on energy reduction.

After reducing our CO2 emissions as much as possible, we offset a large proportion of the rest.

-> See Environment


Supply chain  

WPP spends around $3 billion with suppliers each year. We want to do business with suppliers that meet high standards on the environment and employment practices. We are committed to managing CR risks in our supply chain, both for ourselves and for our clients.

WPP’s Global Procurement Policy contains ethical and environmental criteria which our Group procurement teams use in supplier selection and management.

-> See Supply chain


Social investment  

Our companies have a long tradition of pro bono work – providing creative services to charities at little or no cost. This work can be invaluable – helping raise money and awareness for hundreds of good causes every year. We also support charities through cash donations and employee volunteering.

In 2008, the total value of our social investment was £14.6 million. The reduction in pro bono work on last year is due to the worsening economic conditions which placed pressure on our companies to focus on fee-paying work. This is equivalent to 0.19% of revenue (2% of reported profit before tax) and includes direct cash donations to charities of £4.3 million and £10.3 million worth of pro bono work. In addition, WPP media agencies negotiated £13 million of free media space on behalf of pro bono clients.

A selection of the many pro bono campaigns by our companies are featured in this report.

-> See Social investment