of executive leaders are women

Each WPP company is only as good as the creativity and insights of its people. Our emphasis on inclusion and diversity brings us a double benefit. We can widen our talent pool and with a client base that is itself enormously diverse, we are better placed to meet client needs and to understand and connect with consumers in every market and every sector.

Within our companies, leaders set the tone on diversity. Many of our companies have established chief diversity officers and senior level Diversity Advisory Councils. These provide leadership and make sure that our commitment to diversity and inclusion is understood and integrated into how we work. Training, awareness campaigns and employee networks help our people understand the importance and business benefits of an inclusive workplace. Our companies also take a leading role in industry initiatives designed to overcome barriers to diversity such as the 4A’s Diversity Steering Committee.

At a Group level we are a member of many organisations working to improve diversity, such as the Business Disability Forum and Stonewall, the UK lesbian, gay and bisexual charity, and our companies work with a number of diversity organisations at the national and regional level.

Gender 2009-2013

% female 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
WPP Board 29% 19% 19% 19% 21%
Executive leaders 32% 32% 31% 31% 32%
Senior managers 47% 47% 47% 48% 46%
Other employees 56% 57% 57% 57% 57%
Total employees 54% 54% 54% 54% 54%

Gender 2013

Male Female Total Male (%) Female (%)
Note to tables: Women make up 29% of the WPP Board, 32% of executive leaders and 47% of senior managers.
WPP Board 12 5 17 71% 29%
Executive leaders 3,465 1,634 5,099 68% 32%
Senior managers 9,318 8,145 17,463 53% 47%
Other employees 42,341 54,213 96,554 44% 56%
Total employees 55,124 63,992 119,116 46% 54%

Gender balance

It is essential that women are able to fulfil their potential throughout their careers with WPP companies, including reaching the upper echelons of management in the Group. Already women make up 32% of executive leaders within our operating companies and 47% of senior managers. The WPP Board has 29% female representation. We have launched a number of innovative programs to further enable their development, at both the local and global levels. These include:

  • The X Factor – a senior mentoring and development program, led by the former global CEO of Ogilvy & Mather and chairman of JWT, Charlotte Beers. The program takes place over several months and prepares senior and high potential WPP female leaders for the next level of leadership.
  • WPP Women – an executive network for our most senior women in China, led by Bessie Lee, chief executive officer of WPP China and former member of the World Economic Forum’s Gender Council. The network acts as a forum for senior women and helps mobilise resources and action to drive gender parity.
  • Women on Boards – non-executive roles can enhance womens’ career development at the senior level. Through our support for the Women on Boards not-for-profit organisation, we give senior women in our business opportunities to attend workshops and seminars and build their careers by taking on non-executive directorships.

Ethnic diversity (UK & US)
% ethnic minority

Ethnic diversity (UK & US) bar chart
  • Executive leaders
  • Senior managers
  • Total employees
Note to chart: We measure ethnic diversity in our offices in the UK and the US using national definitions of ethnic/racial minorities, such as those determined by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in the UK and the Equal Opportunity Commission in the US. In 2013, 25% of employees in these countries were from ethnic minorities.

Age diversity %Age diversity in 2013 %

Age diversity bar chart Age diversity in 2013 bar chart
  • 19 or under
  • 20-29
  • 30-39
  • 40-49
  • 50-59
  • 60 and over
Note to chart: Over 70% of employees in the Group are under 40. The industry has traditionally employed a young workforce and this trend is reinforced by our growth in faster-growing economies where the communications services sector is relatively new and has a higher proportion of entry-level employees.

We are members of a number of external initiatives focusing on gender diversity. These include Business in the Community’s Opportunity Now program in the UK and a project with the US-based Centre for Talent Innovation focusing on gender diversity in the healthcare industry. Senior executives support initiatives at the local level. For example, Demet Ikiler, the WPP Country Manager for Turkey, is a member of the Turkish Gender Parity Project and sits on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Women’s Empowerment.

To retain female employees, many companies provide additional support to women returning from maternity leave. This includes part-time and flexible working arrangements and mentoring.


Building a diverse workforce starts with recruitment, and many of our companies use specialist recruitment agencies and publications and attend minority recruitment fairs to reach out to a diverse candidate pool. In the US, many of our companies attend events such as the MAIP Diversity Career Fair, Advertising Week’s Veterans Job Fair, and Reaching Out MBA (targeting the LGBT MBA community), and conduct on-campus recruitment at universities and colleges known to have a diverse population, such as Howard University.


We support disabled employees and, where appropriate, we provide additional training and services for existing employees who become disabled. Some of our companies work with local disability organisations to encourage and support disabled people to join their workforce.

We are members of the Business Disability Forum in the UK.

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