What we're doing

Training and development 

Group training programs are designed to support our business strategy and to encourage collaboration between our companies. Our companies also have their own training covering all aspects of company business and creative skills, see In our companies.

Several thousand people take part in training and professional development opportunities each year at both the parent and operating company levels. In 2011, WPP companies invested £58.3 million in training and wellbeing, a 19% increase over the previous year and a 9% increase per person. We estimate that around 67% of employees participated in formal training during 2011. 

increase in welfare expenditure in 2011

Our goal is for our people at all levels to receive regular performance appraisals. We estimate that in 2011, 81% of employees were included in a regular appraisal process and 39% participated in 360 degree appraisals.

Group-wide training programs include:

  • WPP Spectrum, currently being piloted by Y&R Group across nine countries, is a new program designed to develop the next generation of multidisciplinary global client leaders. Through 360 degree assessments, personal development planning, networking, collaboration and knowledge sharing, and interaction with senior leaders from WPP and our operating companies, participants gain the ‘Super Skills’ needed for roles of this size and complexity. The program supports our strategy of developing multi-company, multidisciplinary teams differentiated by their ability to navigate changing market conditions, translate insights into powerful ideas, mobilise resources and deliver exceptional work. It has been developed in partnership with some of our major clients and will be available to interested companies in the Group in 2012. 

  • Maestro: Orchestrating Client Value is our flagship executive education program. This five-day course is aimed at strengthening the ability of our most senior client leaders to be valued and trusted advisers to their clients, colleagues and teams. Since the program’s inception in 2003, it has been held in 22 countries, has reached more than 2,500 participants and involved 82 WPP companies. 

  • The WPP ‘Mini MBA’ is designed to build functional knowledge and abilities. It combines online tutorials and simulations with instructor-led classroom training. Business disciplines covered are marketing, strategy, people and organisational development, working across cultures, commercial acumen and growing and winning business. Some 1,300 people have participated in the program. 

  • ‘The X Factor’ is a senior mentoring and development program, led by the former global CEO of Ogilvy & Mather and chairman of JWT, Charlotte Beers, which prepares high-potential women in our operating companies for the next level of leadership. So far, 44 women have completed the program. 

  • In 2011, we resourced a training program in Shanghai in conjunction with the China Europe International Business School to promote global client and agency leadership. We will host a second program in Africa in 2012.

Diversity and inclusion

Our non-discrimination policy, introduced in 1992, commits all WPP companies to select, develop and promote people based on merit and regardless of factors such as race, religion, national origin, colour, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age or disability. Policies on harassment and non-discrimination are included in our Code of Conduct. Diversity and inclusion is covered in WPP’s online ethics training completed by all employees, see Business ethics.

Policies and programs aimed at increasing workforce diversity are designed and implemented by our operating companies and we review these as part of our annual talent review process. We provide opportunities for our companies to share ideas and best practices and to hear insights from experts and organisations working in this field. For example, during 2011, the FutureWork Institute led a workshop for our global HR directors in New York focused on developing skills to guard against gender inequality in the workplace. We held a workshop for HR directors in the UK, where our companies met with a number of expert organisations, including Business in the Community’s Race for Opportunity and Opportunity Now, the Employer’s Forum on Disability, and Stonewall, the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity. 

All of our major companies have internal programs to promote diversity and inclusion in their workforce. These include:

  • Partnerships:
Our companies work with diversity organisations and participate in initiatives to encourage diversity. In the US, these include AAF Most Promising Minority Student; Asian Women in Business; The National Black Public Relations Society; National Association of Black Journalists; National Association of Hispanic Journalists; City University of New York; the LAGRANT Foundation and the 4As Diversity Programs. Other examples from 2011 include a partnership between Wunderman Italy and Itaca to help people with mental health issues into employment, and a partnership between The Futures Company and City Gateway, offering apprenticeships to disadvantaged young people from ethnic minorities in the Tower Hamlets area of London. 

  • Internships:
In the US, several companies participate in the 4As Multicultural Advertising Internship Program (MAIP), NY City Capital Internship Program and other initiatives that allow minority students to gain experience in the marketing industry. In many countries our companies have developed partnerships with local schools to encourage students from a wider range of backgrounds to consider a career in marketing services. For example, JWT Atlanta has established, in partnership with the Marcus Graham Project advertising leadership program, a new grant to support the development of African American students in their pursuit of a career in the advertising field. The grant is called The Bill Sharp Award, named after one of the first African American creatives who worked for JWT in the 1960s and taught a Basic Advertising Course. Grey Healthcare uses the Opportunity Network for intern placements, which seeks to level the playing field for high-achieving, under-served high school and college students by creating access to career opportunities, professional networks and colleges.

  • Targeted recruitment:
To help diversify their recruitment pools, many of our companies use specialist recruitment agencies and publications and attend minority recruitment fairs. For example, in North America, Grey works with Morehouse Marketing Conclave and Students in Free Enterprise to recruit graduates from diverse backgrounds, and Millward Brown uses America’s Job Exchange’s (AJE) online job board which specializes in diverse recruitment. 

  • Raising employee awareness:
Training and awareness campaigns help our people understand the importance and business benefits of diversity and inclusion. For example, JWT New York created and screened a series of documentary films and held events celebrating diversity during 2011. During Black History Month a documentary campaign followed six inspirational African Americans around New York City, while on Gay Pride Day a panel of LGBT trailblazers from Entertainment to Education gave JWT New York an opportunity to hear how far the community has come and where they are headed. 

We measure gender and age diversity across our workforce and ethnic diversity in the US and UK, see Key numbers for our performance in 2011. 

In 2011, women accounted for 31% of Board members/executive leaders, 47% of senior managers and 54% of total employees. There are currently three women on WPP’s Board and a female Company Secretary, Group communications director and Group chief counsel. Senior women in our operating companies include:

  • Eileen Campbell, CEO, Millward Brown

  • Janine Hawkins, CEO, Added Value

  • Mary Ellen Howe, COO, WPP Specialist Communications, North America

  • Donna Imperato, CEO, Cohn & Wolfe

  • Tamara Ingram, president, Team P&G

  • Lois Jacobs, global CEO, Fitch

  • Shelly Lazarus, chairman emeritus, Ogilvy & Mather

  • Bessie Lee, CEO, GroupM Greater China

  • Ann Newman, executive vice president, WPP Latin America

  • Lynn O’Connor Vos, CEO, ghg

  • Sharon Potter, worldwide CEO, Kantar Operations

  • Stacey Singer, CEO, Team Chemistry

Forty-three nationalities are represented among WPP Leaders and Partners, the senior echelon of our business. 

  • Disability: We provide support for disabled employees where appropriate and, where existing employees become disabled, our policy is to provide continuing employment and training wherever practicable. 

Employee infringements

We strive to treat all our people fairly and with respect. Occasionally things do not go according to plan. We may get things wrong or the overall interests of a company or the Group may be incompatible with requirements of local employment legislation.

We monitor the number of employment cases involving WPP. In 2011 there were 177 newly-reported cases, compared to 101 cases in 2010. During the year, 118 cases were concluded. Of these 20 were withdrawn, 54 agreed between parties, 27 judged against WPP and 17 judged in favour. All cases are carefully evaluated to ensure that we have the right policies and procedures in place to reduce infringements wherever possible. 


Our companies keep in touch with our people’s views through regular opinion surveys. We are integrating questions on sustainability into these surveys to help us assess attitudes and awareness around the Group. These cover issues such as ethics, training, wellbeing and environment. In 2011, results relating to these issues from surveys covering around 47% of all employees, included: 

 % employees who agreed
Attracting and retaining people with 
a diverse background is encouraged at 
my location 67
My performance in my job is evaluated fairly and regularly 65
I have the opportunity for personal development and growth at this company 60
My company takes an interest in my well-being 60
My work schedule allows me sufficient flexibility to meet my personal/family needs 62
I could discuss ethical concerns with my managers without worrying that my job would be affected 78
Generally we are encouraged to be ‘green’ in our office (e.g. recycling, switching off equipment when not in use, etc.) 69
My company is trying to cut its carbon footprint 28
The support my company gives to charities and good causes is appropriate 71

The relatively low number of our people who agree that their company is trying to cut its carbon footprint suggest that we need to do more to communicate our climate strategy to employees and involve them in our efforts. 

Regular communication helps our people in all markets to keep up to date with Group news and changes in the business. Group-wide communications channels include:

  • WPP’s multi-award winning public website 
(www.wpp.com), Group intranet site, social media channels and professional knowledge communities. 

  • WPP’s multi-award winning global newspaper and eBook, The WIRE. 

  • WPP’s public monthly online news bulletin, e.wire, and fortnightly digital update, Digital Loop. 

  • WPP’s annual journal of original thinking, the Atticus Journal. 

  • The WPP Reading Room, an extensive online library of think-pieces (both public and original) from WPP professionals worldwide. 

  • Our multi-award winning Annual Report & Accounts, financial statements and Sustainability Report, which are distributed across the Group and are available on our websites. 

  • Regular FactFiles profiling specialist services and resources within the Group. 

  • Regular communication on Group initiatives such as the Worldwide Partnership Program, BrandZTM, the Atticus Awards, the WPPED Cream awards, the WPP Marketing Fellowship Program and professional development workshops. 

  • Our series of Navigator handbooks, which provide a directory of specialist expertise and individual experts within Group companies, such as sustainability, healthcare, sports and retail. 

  • Periodic reports from the Group chief executive on topics of importance. 

  • Formal and informal meetings at operating company level.

Safety, health and wellbeing

As an office-based business, the main health and safety risks to our workforce are injuries connected to workstation ergonomics and work-related stress. Ensuring our workstations follow good practice design reduces problems such as repetitive strain injury or back problems. Our companies assess the risk of work-related stress through regular staff surveys and by monitoring issues raised via our Right to Speak helpline, Employee Assistance Programs and during exit interviews.

Initiatives to combat workplace stress vary by company but include:

  • Employee Assistance Programs – a source of confidential advice, support and counselling. 

  • Flexible benefit programs, including subsidised childcare. 

  • Flexible work arrangements enabling people to work part-time or from home. 

  • Medical checks and health screening. 

  • Training on stress and time management. 

We collect health and safety data through our financial reporting system, see Key numbers.

Remuneration and share ownership

We benchmark our reward packages against other companies in the sector to ensure our pay packages are set at the right level. In addition to base pay, many employees participate in performance-based incentive plans that reward achievement against annual or longer term goals relevant to their area of the business. 

Participation in share-based incentive plans gives our people the opportunity to acquire a stake in the company and share in its success. Senior employees receive a significant part of their compensation through share-based incentive plans. In 1997, WPP introduced the Worldwide Ownership Plan that typically makes share awards to approximately 47,000 eligible employees per year in over 78 countries and, since inception, has made awards to over 110,402 of our people. 

We also provide local benefits such as retirement and medical plans.

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