female representation on the WPP Board of Directors following 2015 AGM


employees from ethnic minorities in the UK and US


spend on training and welfare


paid internships and apprenticeships globally at WPP companies


days lost to sickness per employee

Fast read

Why this is important

Our businesses succeed on the strength of our people’s skills, creativity and insight. Recruiting and retaining the most talented people is essential. We need diversity of background and thought to enable us to serve the needs of our clients in every market and sector.

Sustainability impact

By investing in training, development and welfare we can help our people achieve their full potential at work and develop their careers.

Our focus on inclusion, internships and education support people from all backgrounds to pursue successful careers in the advertising and marketing industry.

Business value

In a competitive industry, leading employment practices help us to recruit and retain the best people and to reduce employee turnover.

Implementing best practices in the area of health and well-being can also help us to reduce costs associated with employee ill-health.

Challenges and dilemmas

Like many sectors, women are still under-represented at the most senior levels in the marketing communications industry. As our industry becomes more digital, data and technology-driven, achieving gender balance could become more challenging.

In our client-facing and fast-paced sector, work-related stress can have an impact on our employees and our business. Our agencies are working to improve understanding in this area among managers and their teams, and to make sure that employees get the right support to maintain good mental health.

Management approach

Human resources issues are managed within our operating companies and networks, with support from the central WPP Talent Team.

What is the issue?

Our clients hire WPP companies to benefit from the creativity and insight of our people. Our companies create inclusive and inspiring workplaces that foster diversity and original thinking. We invest in our people’s skills to enable them to meet our clients’ changing needs and we support education outside WPP to help create a pipeline of future talent. In our competitive industry, attractive remuneration and benefits are essential, while health and welfare programs and a focus on internal communication and engagement support an engaged and productive workforce. We invest well over $10 billion a year in human capital, as opposed to $400 million in fixed assets – 25 times more.

WPP directly employs 124,000 people. When our associate companies are included (those in which we have a minority stake) the figure is almost 179,000 people in 3,000 offices in 111 countries. Data in this section is for our direct employees only.

How we manage

Our principles for people management are set out in our Code of Conduct and Sustainability Policy. Our companies use these as the basis for more detailed employment policies that reflect local circumstances and are implemented at operating company level. The central WPP Talent Team supports human resources professionals in our companies to implement and share best practice. This includes a number of cross-company networks for our HR teams.

We gather data on diversity, training, sick days and other relevant subjects; selected data was externally verified.

Creating inclusive workplaces, valuing diversity

Difference of thought and experience is essential in serving the needs of our diverse and global client base.

Our companies focus on inclusive working practices, collaborating with each other and external partners to identify and adopt best practice. To encourage diversity many have senior diversity champions, mentoring programs, diversity training for employees, partnerships with specialist minority recruitment firms and internships and apprenticeships for diverse candidates.

Our companies 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 work with diversity organisations such as the Business Disability Forum, Business in the Community and Stonewall, the UK lesbian, gay and bisexual charity.

There are seven nationalities currently represented on the WPP Board.

Diversity in recruitment

Our companies engage with diverse candidates in a number of ways, including using recruitment partners that specialise in reaching diverse candidates, such as our partnership with Rare Recruitment, and work with professional organisations representing professionals from minority backgrounds. Careers events targeting diverse candidates are a useful tool. In the US, for example, many of our companies attend the Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP) Diversity Career Fair, Advertising Week’s Veterans Job Fair and Reaching Out MBA (targeting the LGBT MBA community), as well as recruitment events at universities and colleges which have high student diversity or minority representation, such as Howard University in Washington DC.

Internships and apprenticeships are an important means for young people from a variety of backgrounds to gain first-hand experience of working in our industry. Several of our internship programs target minority students, including the WPP Fellowship and Micro-fellowship programs and the 4A’s MAIP. See more information at Paid internships and apprenticeships by region 2014.

Ethnic diversity

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 2014, 26% of employees in these countries were from ethnic minorities (2013: 25%).

Ethnic diversity (UK and US)
% ethnic minority

Ethnic diversity, UK and US (% ethnic minority) - 2010: Executive leaders 11, Senior managers 16, Total employees 23; 2011: Executive leaders 11, Senior managers 17, Total employees 23; 2012: Executive leaders 11, Senior managers 18, Total employees 23; 2013: Executive leaders 10, Senior managers 18, Total employees 25; 2014: Executive leaders 11, Senior managers 19, Total employees 26;
  • Executive leaders
  • Senior managers
  • Total employees

Women in the workplace

We aim to achieve balanced representation of men and women at all levels of the organisation. Women now make up 31% of executive leaders within our operating companies and 46% of senior managers.

As at 31 December 2014, women comprised 24% of the WPP Board and 29% of non-executive directors. Following the retirement of Mark Read from the Board on 1 February 2015 and Philip Lader, Colin Day and Jeffrey Rosen at the 2015 AGM, women will comprise 29% of the WPP Board and 33% of non-executive directors in line with our aspiration to increase and maintain the female representation on the Board to 30% of non-executive directors.

Gender 2010-2014

Gender 2010-2014
% female 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
WPP Board 24% 29% 19% 19% 19%
Executive leaders 31% 32% 32% 31% 31%
Senior managers 46% 47% 47% 47% 48%
Total employees 54% 54% 54% 54% 54%

Promoting gender balance

We have launched a number of programs to further enable the development of female leaders, at both the local and global levels. Within our companies, work to close the gender gap includes training for senior leaders, awareness raising on unconscious bias, sponsorship, networking and mentoring programs for senior women.

We support these efforts at a Group level. We run ‘The X Factor’, a senior mentoring and development program for women led by Charlotte Beers, the former global CEO of Ogilvy & Mather and chairman of J. Walter Thompson, that prepares senior and high potential WPP female leaders for the next level of leadership. By the end of 2015, 97 women will have completed the program. The network has encouraged collaboration and knowledge sharing and enabled us to retain and develop some of the best female talent in the industry. We have also run two Women in Leadership Lessons, an event for mid-level women, based on the key aspects of X Factor. Over 70 representatives from our New York- and London-based companies attended the course which is also led by Charlotte Beers.

We launched WPP Stella in the UK, a network for our most senior women that will support efforts to achieve gender balance and encourage best practice sharing between our companies. It will provide a forum for discussion on issues that impact women’s lives and careers, and introduce Group-wide initiatives to address these. It will assess the career journey for women within WPP and identify ‘pinch points’ presenting barriers to women progressing their careers to senior levels. This group met twice in 2014 and is focusing on:

  • Walk the Talk: visibility and networking is critical to career success and also has the benefit of providing more role models for younger women. We are building a WPP Stella speakers database, so we can promote our senior women as conference speakers, panel judges and event organisers.
  • Educate and Empower: we are piloting progression training for our senior women, and maternity coaching for our female employees.
  • Mind the Gap: we are benchmarking our employment polices across the Group and with external competitors in areas such as maternity, paternity and flexible working.

The network is being piloted among our companies in the UK with a view to rolling it out to other markets.

We support Women on Boards, an initiative to encourage women to take on board roles in all types of public and private sector organisations. This provides opportunities for senior women in our business to build their careers by taking on non-executive directorships.

Female executive leaders by region, 2014

Female executive leaders by region, 2014 (%) - Asia Pacific: 30%, Europe: 30%, Latin America: 33%, Middle East & Africa: 26%, North America: 35%

Note to chart: Executive leaders are the most senior employees in our operating companies.

We are members of the Opportunity Now program of Business in the Community and are part of a project with the US-based Center for Talent Innovation focusing on aspects of gender diversity. We supported a report by the Center for Talent Innovation published in 2014 which showed that healthcare companies need more women in leadership roles in order to be able to effectively engage female patients and consumers. See www.talentinnovation.org.

Sir Martin Sorrell

Sir Martin Sorrell


“Gender balance isn’t a ‘women’s issue’. It’s a core business issue that’s relevant to any company wanting to be successful in today’s market. Research shows businesses with a gender-balanced leadership outperform their peers. And with women accounting for 60% of university graduates and responsible for 80% of consumer purchasing decisions this is an issue of access to talent and access to markets too. Yet in both business and the public sector, on our current trajectory we’re not likely to achieve gender balance for decades to come.

...As leaders, whether male or female, we can all be role models for an inclusive way of working. As brands we can use our communication to engage consumers and raise the positive profile of women in business. In the media we need a new dialogue on women in leadership... And as individuals we should keep challenging stereotypes.”

Extract from a speech made by Sir Martin Sorrell at the Inspirational Journey Conference 2014.

Flexible workplaces

Flexible working arrangements can support recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce, and can be particularly beneficial for working parents. Policies on flexible working are set at a local level and may include part-time and home working arrangements, as well as career breaks and sabbaticals.

For example, Ogilvy & Mather North America was recognised as one of Working Mother magazine’s 2014 100 Best Companies for its programs including emergency childcare, child-rearing leave, on-site lactation rooms, Working Parents Network, and a flexible work policy – which gives employees options such as flexible start/end work hours each day and the ability to work from home.

LGBT diversity

We thrive by bringing together creative people from all backgrounds and walks of life and creating an environment in which they can be themselves and be inspired to have their best ideas. We aim to recruit and retain the most talented people, including those from the LGBT communities.

To help us create a positive employment experience for our LGBT employees, our companies have taken a number of steps, including establishing employee networks, such as Ogilvy Pride, and working with organisations such as Stonewall, see case study, below.

Andrew Barratt

“At Ogilvy diversity isn’t about ticking boxes, we have an active and ongoing celebration of LGBT individuals”

Andrew Barratt
Ogilvy Pride Lead

Ogilvy Pride

Ogilvy & Mather aims to create workplaces where people can be themselves and thrive, including employees from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities.

Ogilvy Pride, the company’s LGBT & Straight Ally professional network, was founded in 2008 to promote inclusion for the LGBT community. O&M is the first advertising and marketing agency to establish such a network.

In the UK, O&M works closely with non-governmental organisation Stonewall to promote equality and diversity and has become the 50th member of Stonewall’s Global Diversity Champions Programme.

The agency also works with clients to develop marketing for the LGBT community, including the Google Plus Same-Sex campaign (Cannes Lions Gold winner) and Tiffany & Co’s first campaign featuring a same-sex marriage.

O&M’s approach was recognised by the Human Rights Campaign Organisation which awarded the agency a 100% score in its Corporate Equality Index 2015.

Ogilvy Pride Twitter: OgilvyPrideWW


Our industry has traditionally employed a young workforce, and over 70% of employees in the Group are under 40, with levels particularly high in faster-growing markets. We believe that a mix of ages can be beneficial to creativity and insight in the workplace, and some of our companies have introduced measures to support retention of older people, such as phased retirement.

Age diversity 2014

Age diversity 2014 (%) - 19 or under: <1%, 20-29: 36%, 30-39: 37%, 40-49: 18%, 50-59: 7%, 60 and over: 2%
  • 19 or under <1%
  • 20-29 36%
  • 30-39 37%
  • 40-49 18%
  • 50-59 7%
  • 60 and over 2%

Age diversity by region 2014

overAge diversity by region 2014 (%) - 19 or under: <1%, 20-29: 36%, 30-39: 37%, 40-49: 18%, 50-59: 7%, 60 and over: 2%
  • 19 or under
  • 20-29
  • 30-39
  • 40-49
  • 50-59
  • 60 and over


Disability should not be a barrier to a career in marketing and communications. Our companies support employees with disabilities and their managers, making adjustments in the workplace and providing additional support and assistance where needed. We are members of the Business Disability Forum in the UK. The French Government has introduced a target for employers to reach 6% representation of disabled people in the workplace. Our French companies are introducing a range of measures, including partnering with specialist recruitment companies and participating in job fairs targeting disabled candidates, as well as adapting workplaces and providing support for disabled employees.

“People with disabilities, who have an annual disposable income of $220 billion in the US, enjoy greater independence after having their needs met. Companies benefit from a newly created revenue stream”

Tonya Deniz
DisABILITYincites founder and executive director

Creating disability insights – Kantar

There are 56.7 million people with disabilities in the US (one out of every five adults), but people with disabilities are rarely the focus of marketing studies. This means their needs are often missed or underserved by businesses.

In 2014, Lightspeed All Global, part of WPP insight group Kantar, teamed up with non-profit disABILITYincites to create the largest US panel of consumers with disabilities ever assembled. The study Pathways to Greater Inclusion of People With Disabilities used a sample of 5,000 people to examine consumption behaviours as well as unmet needs due to accessibility challenges.

It provided insights to inspire new products and services that enable people with disabilities to live independently and fully participate in all areas of life.

Investing in skills and creativity

We invest in training, developing bespoke programs that build professional skills and equip our people to meet our clients’ changing needs. We support education outside of WPP to benefit communities, increase social mobility and encourage talented and diverse young people to pursue careers in the marketing industry.

Our companies work hard to create dynamic workplaces that foster creativity and help spark new ideas. Recent examples include:

  • Ogilvy & Mather London has introduced Ogilvy Labs, a research and development facility that exposes employees and clients to inspiring new ideas and experiences in areas such as digital technology.
  • J. Walter Thompson has launched its Creative Inspirations Program to encourage new thinking and foster a team spirit among its creative department. This has included bespoke workshops, trips and social events and has had a positive impact on its creative output while contributing to a significant reduction in staff turnover.
  • Ogilvy & Mather Toronto established Spark, a learning and development syllabus that explores creative thinking through insights from successful and talented people in a range of fields. Recent talks have included renowned architects, chart-topping musicians and award-winning songwriters.

We celebrate our companies’ creative achievements through the WPP WPPED Cream Awards, which recognise the very best work produced by WPP companies in all disciplines across eight categories. See www.wpp.com/wppedcream.

The creativity and effectiveness of our work for clients has been recognised in a number of major awards including winning the Effie Most Effective Holding Company award for four consecutive years.

Training and development

In 2014, our spend on training and welfare programs increased to £73.9 million, a 15% increase on the previous year, compared with a 4% rise in headcount. Employees completed around nine hours of formal training on average over the year. Around 60% of employees participated in a formal training program. This includes training at both Group and operating company levels.

Our Group-wide training programs encourage collaboration across companies, disciplines and regions and we focus on skills such as digital marketing that are essential for our future business growth. Group programs include:

  • Maestro: Orchestrating Client Value: A week-long program for senior client leaders to unleash their leadership potential so that they may inspire deeper trust, and have greater impact with their clients and teams. Maestro has been hosted in 27 countries with more than 3,460 participants from 116 WPP companies since its inception in 2003.
  • The WPP ‘Mini MBA’: Six workshops aimed primarily at rising talent to help broaden their understanding of business and marketing issues, develop leadership and management skills, and deliver client value. Some 2,267 participants worldwide have benefited from these programs.
  • WPP Spectrum: leadership journey designed to connect and develop WPP’s multidisciplinary Global Client Leaders so that they may explore the skills, knowledge and expertise needed for roles of this complexity. Leaders from seven WPP global client teams have made the Spectrum journey.
  • WPP Fellowship program: our three-year global multidisciplinary and multi-geographical recruitment and training initiative for graduates, providing experience across a range of marketing disciplines. There will have been 170 Fellows who have gone through or are participating in the Fellowship by the end of 2015, which marks the program’s 20th anniversary.
  • WPP MBA Fellowship program: a global multidisciplinary program for MBA graduates, with 60 participants to date.

Staff training and welfare
£m investment

Staff training and welfare (£m investment) - 2010: 48.9, 2011: 58.3, 2012: 57.8, 2013: 64.4, 2014: 73.9

Training opportunities at our companies focus on areas such as:

  • Industry-specific skills and technical qualifications, including digital and new media, branding, creative writing, design, media relations
  • Business skills such as presenting, time management, sales and negotiation, software, client relationships
  • Functional skills such as financial, legal and compliance
  • Privacy and data security and protection
  • Leadership, strategy and business development
  • Diversity and inclusion training
  • English language training.

Appraisals and development

Employees at all levels receive regular performance appraisals to help them develop their careers within the Group. In 2014, 77% of employees were involved in a regular appraisal process, with an appraisal at least once every two years. Many companies have more frequent appraisals, often up to three times a year. Some employees, particularly at senior levels, take part in 360 degree appraisals. In 2014, 72% of companies undertook these appraisals. We encourage our people to develop their careers within the Group, and Springboard, our online Job Board, helps people find new roles within our companies in the UK, China, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Internships and apprenticeships

Internships and apprenticeships encourage young people from all backgrounds to pursue careers in the marketing industry. This widens our talent pool, helps build skills among young people entering the job market and supports efforts to tackle youth unemployment.

In 2014, we offered some 5,911 paid internship and apprenticeship positions across the Group. This is equivalent to 5% of our total workforce. Our research shows that this created benefits worth £7 million annually for local economies by helping young people to find work more quickly.

Paid internships and apprenticeships by region 2014

Paid internships and apprenticeships by region 2014 - Europe: 2,122, Asia Pacific: 2,038, Latin America: 892, North America: 733, Middle East & Africa: 126

Recent examples of our intern and apprentice schemes include:

  • PR Internships for All: Cohn & Wolfe UK support the Public Relations Consultants Association’s initiative to bring young people from diverse backgrounds into the PR industry. Eight young people completed internships in 2014.
  • Z Academy: Wunderman and Y&R’s global apprenticeship scheme employing up to 70 apprentices a year across 30 countries.
  • D&AD’s New Blood Program: three-month apprenticeships at WPP companies for students who represent the top creative talent of the future.
  • WPP Micro-fellowship: joint initiative between WPP and Rare Recruitment, encourages ethnic minority candidates to consider a career in marketing communications.
  • The Futures Company: apprenticeship through City Gateway, a charity that provides training and employment opportunities for disadvantaged youngsters.
  • IPA Creative Pioneers: apprenticeships at MEC, Mindshare and J. Walter Thompson UK via this scheme endorsed by the UK Government.
  • 4A’s Multicultural Advertising Internship Program: 10-week paid internships for diverse candidates at many of our US agencies. Our companies also support the NY CCIP, Ladders for Leaders and other initiatives that allow minority students to gain experience in the marketing industry.
  • JWTeach: reaches out to diverse young people who might not otherwise consider a career in marketing through in-school workshops and setting creative challenges. The most passionate students are offered work experience placements.
  • Starting Blocks: Burson-Marsteller South Africa’s internship program was designed with local universities to give students practical experience that will help them complete their degrees and find full-time employment more quickly on graduation.
  • Associate Learning Programme Genesis Burson-Marsteller India: this year-long paid internship program provides training in all facets of public relations within a working environment.

In the UK, a number of our companies including RKCR/Y&R and Ogilvy & Mather London supported Movement to Work, which is helping 100,000 young people not currently in education, employment or training to develop the skills and confidence to find a job. Hill+Knowlton Strategies joined the program in 2014, recruiting three young people for work experience placements via Job Centre Plus. WPP and Hill+Knowlton Strategies provide pro bono communications support to Movement to Work. We have recently met with eight of our major UK suppliers to encourage them to join the initiative.

We partner with universities and higher education institutions to develop skills and ensure a pipeline of talented people for our industry. This is particularly important in markets where the marketing and communications industry is less well-established. For example, in China in 2011, we teamed up with the Shanghai Art & Design Academy (SADA) to establish the WPP School of Marketing and Communications. This jointly run school offers China’s first professional marketing and communications three-year diploma program and provides four areas of study: Strategic Planning, Copywriting, Art and Digital Design. The WPP School took on its fourth intake of 100 students and graduated its first class in 2014. And in India, WPP has partnered with the Indian School of Design and Innovation to offer a three-year undergraduate course on marketing communications. The course will open during 2015 in Mumbai.

Other education partnerships include J. Walter Thompson’s partnership with the American University in Dubai and our support for the European Institute for Commercial Communications Education (EDCOM), which encourages collaboration between education establishments and the commercial communications sector.

Competitive remuneration and reward

Attractive remuneration packages help us recruit and retain top people in our highly-competitive industry. We regularly benchmark our compensation against other companies.

Many employees receive performance-related incentives and senior employees may participate in share-based compensation plans. Incentive plans reward excellent performance, assessed either through their operational business area or the share price performance of the Company. The Group also provides a range of other benefits such as retirement provision and well-being benefits in accordance with local practice.

Remuneration for our most senior leaders is set in accordance with our Executive Remuneration Policy that is designed to attract and retain the best-in-class talent. The policy looks to incentivise directors to develop the skills of the Group’s employees in order to consistently exceed our clients’ expectations. The policy’s objective is to drive and reward sustainable and exceptional performance, thereby producing long-term value for share owners. See our Annual Report for more information.

Karen Blackett

Karen Blackett
CEO, MediaCom UK

Award-winning apprenticeships at MediaCom London

“We can’t be innovative, pioneering, challenging and inspiring if our agency is made up of the same types, from the same places, with the same experiences. We’ve unearthed some impressive talent but the scheme has also helped to challenge and motivate existing staff, which is a benefit we just didn’t foresee”

At MediaCom diversity of background, experience and thought is essential to produce the most innovative and effective marketing plans for the company’s wide range of clients.

Its London apprenticeship scheme, launched in 2012, aims to dispel the myth that you need to be a graduate to get ahead in the media industry. Run with the aid of the National Apprenticeship Service, the scheme provides a year-long apprenticeship for 10 young people, who haven’t had the benefit of attending university, and apprentices also undertake a Level 3 NVQ qualification in Marketing and Communications.

MediaCom works with a number of organisations, charitable trusts and social enterprises to ensure it attracts candidates from diverse backgrounds. Outreach events in London schools and colleges also help to raise awareness among young people.

To date, all 30 apprentices have been offered full-time positions at MediaCom on completing their placements. MediaCom was awarded Apprenticeship Employer of the Year in 2014 by Skills CFA and a MediaCom apprentice won London Apprentice of the Year at the Mayor’s Fund for London awards.

Since 1997, we have operated a Worldwide Ownership Plan that has granted share awards to more than 139,000 employees. In 2014, approximately 50,000 eligible employees received awards in over 71 countries. This plan will expire in 2015 and will be replaced by the WPP plc Share Option Plan 2015.

We support employees to prepare financially for future life events. This varies by company but includes competitive benefits packages in the area of retirement and savings, as well as life and accident insurance.

Supporting employee health and wellbeing

We support our employees to maintain good physical and mental health. This benefits our people, and the business, since we estimate the cost of sickness absence to be at least £54.9 million each year. The main risks for our businesses include ergonomic injuries from desk working and stress.

employees granted WPP shares through our Worldwide Ownership Plan

Work-related stress can affect mental health and our companies put in place measures to identify and address risks in this area and to support employees. We assess the risk of work-related stress across our companies through regular staff surveys and by monitoring the issues raised through our Right to Speak helpline, employee assistance programs and exit interviews. Our employee benefit programs support employees in balancing work and home commitments. These include subsidised and childcare services, and maternity, paternity and adoption benefits, flexible work arrangements enabling people to work part-time or from home, as well as career breaks and sabbaticals.

The overall sickness rate fell by 8% during 2014 to 3.2 days per employee.

Days lost due to sickness

Days lost due to sickness - Rate per employee - 2010: 3.2 , 2011: 3.3, 2012: 3.4, 2013: 3.5, 2014: 3.2
  • Total days lost due to sickness
  • Rate per employee

Company health and well-being programs

Our companies operate their own health and safety management systems, which may include employee training, audits and risk assessments. Over 77% of our companies have nominated someone with specific responsibility for health and safety.

Each company provides a holistic and integrated set of health, safety and wellness support for employees. This may include:

  • Health and safety training and ergonomic assessments
  • Employee assistance programs – a source of confidential advice, support and counselling on topics such as health and parenting skills
  • Flexible benefit programs, including subsidised childcare
  • Flexible work arrangements enabling people to work part-time or from home, as well as career breaks and sabbaticals
  • Medical checks and health screening, often through on-site doctors and nurses
  • Health insurance
  • Training on stress and time management
  • Subsidised gym memberships or on-site gyms, yoga and exercise classes
  • Special programs for parents with children or dependants with special needs
  • Cancer case reviews
  • Substance abuse case reviews
  • Dedicated/designated clinical service units supporting our workforce
  • Emergency childcare services
  • Maternity, paternity and adoption benefits
  • Flu vaccinations
  • Health and well-being advice services on issues such as weight loss, nutrition, healthy living and pre- and post-natal care
  • Preventive care considerations/programs along with a Member Health Engagement Plan
  • Health and welfare insurance
  • Vision care programs.

Monitoring our progress

In our diverse and decentralised Group, we use a number of different approaches to measuring our progress and comparing performance between our companies. This ranges from formal surveys and structured engagement to informal but essential dialogue with employees on a day-to-day basis.

We hold exit interviews with employees who are leaving the business, a system which often provides valuable feedback for our managers. In 2014, 78% of leavers had exit interviews.

Employee surveys

Our companies conduct employee surveys regularly to assess how engaged our people are in their work and to identify areas for improvement in our human resources practices. Some of our companies take part in surveys that enable them to compare their performance with other similar companies. Surveys are held annually or bi-annually, with results usually shared with all employees. Managers develop action plans to respond to findings.

of leavers had exit interviews

We also include a consistent set of questions in employee surveys to enable us to compare views across WPP companies. These questions were included in surveys covering 68% of Group employees in 2014.

Employee survey results
Employee survey results % employees who agreed
Attracting, developing and retaining people with a diverse background is encouraged at my location 62
My performance in my job is evaluated fairly and regularly 62
I have the opportunity for personal development and growth at this company 61
My company takes an interest in my well-being 61
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 73
My company is trying to cut its carbon footprint 46
Generally we are encouraged to be ‘green’ in our office 60
The support my company gives to charities and good causes is appropriate 61

Employment infringements

We strive to meet best practices standards in employment, to treat all employees fairly and to create an environment where concerns can be raised and addressed in an open way. However, mistakes do happen and on occasion dialogue with employees may break down.

We respond promptly to formal complaints made by employees, including those made via employment tribunals and other external channels, and aim to find a fair resolution. In cases where we have not lived up to our standards we seek to understand why mistakes have been made and to take steps to prevent a reoccurrence. We are transparent in reporting the number of cases against WPP companies and the outcomes.

In 2014, 484 cases were reported, compared to 264 cases in 2013. During the year, 265 cases were finalised. Of these, 136 were withdrawn, 67 agreed between parties, 44 judged against Group companies and 18 judged in favour.

Labour relations

We support the rights of employees to join trade unions and to bargain collectively. In our industry, the majority of employees are not members of trade unions. However, where relevant we aim to have positive relations with trade unions or employee works councils. In 2014, around 16% of employees were members of trade unions across at least 30 countries. We are aware of 1,184 consultations with works councils, of which the majority were in Europe. Thirty-three consultations were held with works councils in our businesses in China.

We avoid compulsory redundancies where possible, and when redundancies are necessary we aim to help employees find other opportunities within the Group or through employee assistance programs.

Awards and accreditations. In 2014 many of our companies received awards for their employment practices.

Examples include:

  • Cohn & Wolfe US: Best Place to Work Awards from Advertising Age, PRWeek, Holmes Report and Crains
  • The Futures Company: 101 Best & Brightest Companies to Work For 2014
  • GroupM Mexico: recognised for its work on employee health and welfare by the Workplace Wellness Council Mexico
  • GroupM Spain: Top Employer Certificate from the Best Companies to Work For
  • J. Walter Thompson Brazil: Great Place to work
  • J. Walter Thompson London: Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) Gold Award for outstanding and effective professional development and IPA Platinum award for Sustained Training Excellence
  • MediaCom London: Investors in People accreditation for people management and Apprenticeship Employer of the Year 2014 by Skills CFA
  • Millward Brown and Kantar Worldpanel Mexico: included in the Great Place to Work Mexico ranking
  • Ogilvy & Mather North America: Working Mother 2014 100 Best Companies
  • Ogilvy & Mather UK: Women in Marketing Company Award – Best Company, for encouraging and fostering female leadership
  • WPP US: named one of America’s Best Employers by Forbes magazine, the only company in the communications services industry to be placed among the top 500 employers.