Sustainability and our business

By managing our own sustainability performance and developing our knowledge on social and environmental trends we can access this business and respond to the growing number of client procurement processes which include sustainability criteria. Our work on sustainability also increases access to talent, improves efficiency and reduces risks to our business.

Enabling our strategy today

Our business strategy is focused on four strategic priorities: horizontality; new markets; new media; and technology, data and content. Our work on sustainability enables our business strategy and supports our growth in three main ways:

Gaining access to skills – our employment practices and reputation for sustainability help us to recruit, retain and engage the best creative talent in our industry. By recruiting from a diverse talent pool and investing in training and development we can ensure we have the right people to serve our clients in all disciplines across our locations, including new markets where our industry is less well-established.

Enabling new business wins – clients who engaged with us on sustainability were worth at least £1.29 billion to the Group in 2015, equivalent to 11% of revenues. Our leading privacy and data security standards enable us to meet client expectations and to grow our digital and data investment management businesses.

Improving efficiency, reducing risk and protecting our reputation – managing social and environmental performance and selecting suppliers who meet standards consistent with our own, helps us to operate more efficiently, to reduce costs and risks and to enhance our reputation with clients, employees and stakeholders.

Fit for the long term

The next decades present unprecedented opportunities and risks for brands. On the one hand, technological development and the rise of the global middle-class create huge commercial opportunities. On the other, climate change, ecosystem decline, water scarcity, obesity and a growing global population present major challenges.

These changes will disrupt old business models, alter supply chains and give rise to new products, services and businesses. Successful companies will find opportunity in this change, identifying new ways to do more with less, adopting circular and sharing economy models to avoid resource scarcity, rising prices and disruption to supply chains. They will look to generate shared value through their products and services, helping to improve quality of life as they grow their businesses.

Expectations of what business should contribute to society are also rising. Increasingly, business is expected to play a significant role in tackling the world’s challenges, while technology and social media enable people to hold brands to account for their social and environmental performance, from anywhere in the world.

In this environment, brands will need the best insight, research and communications services and they will seek a marketing services provider who understands the changing landscape and shares their values.

Our companies are already working with many pioneers of sustainable business. As our clients increasingly feel the impact of these longer-term trends, their significance will grow for WPP too. Our work on sustainability today will help ensure our business is fit for the future.

Our 4 strategic priorities

Our goal remains to be the world’s most admired and respected communications services advisor to global, multinational, regional and local companies. To that end we have four strategic priorities:

Advance ‘horizontality’ by ensuring our people work together for the benefit of clients

Increase the share of revenues from faster-developing markets to 40-45%

Increase the share of revenues from new media to 40-45%

Maintain the share of more measurable marketing services at 50% of revenues

Efficiency, risk and reputation:

Operating responsibly and ethically and selecting suppliers who do the same, reduces legal and financial risks and protects our reputation with clients, employees, investors, governments and other stakeholders. Improving our sustainability performance improves efficiency, reducing operating costs and enabling us to focus more on what matters most.

Access to skills:

Leading employment practices give us access to the people and skills we need to grow in new and established markets, across disciplines and to work with horizontality. Investing in skills and education, especially in our growth markets, widens our talent pool and helps us to grow.

Access to new business:

Leading privacy practices are essential to grow our new media and data investment management businesses. A significant number of client tender processes include sustainability requirements that we must meet to access this business. More global clients are prioritising sustainable business practices. This is a growing source of revenue for our businesses who are able to provide insight on social and environmental issues and longer-term business risks and opportunities.