United Nations Global Compact Index

I am pleased to reaffirm WPP’s commitment to the 10 principles of the United Nations Global Compact covering human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. We are working to integrate these principles into our strategy, culture and operations, and we are committed to collaborating with our clients, suppliers, the UN and others on these issues and to sharing our progress with stakeholders through our Sustainability Report.

Sir Martin Sorrell, Group chief executive

We joined the United Nations Global Compact in 2015, and are committed to its 10 principles covering the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.

This report is our second Communication on Progress against the Global Compact Principles, covering the year 2016. This table provides a summary of our approach in each area and links to where further information and performance data can be found in our report.

Summary of approach
Location in our reporting

Human rights and labour

Human rights and labour
Principle One
Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and

Principle Two
make sure they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

Principle Three
Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;

Principle Four
the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;

Principle Five
the effective abolition of child labour; and

Principle Six
eliminate discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
Summary of approach
Respect for human rights is a fundamental principle for WPP and we take steps to prevent, identify and address any negative human rights impacts associated with our business as well as looking for opportunities to positively promote and support human rights.

Our human rights policy statement reflects international standards and principles including the International Bill of Human Rights, the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and the Children’s Rights and Business Principles. Our commitment is also explained in our Code of Business Conduct, our Sustainability Policy, and our Code of Business Conduct – Supplier Version. We updated a number of other policies relating to employment and procurement during 2016 to reflect our commitment to human rights.

Our people
Our main human rights impact is as a major employer in 112 countries and we aim to embed respect for human rights into our employment practices. This includes providing safe workplaces, selecting and promoting our people on the basis of their qualifications and merit, preventing discrimination and encouraging diversity. We recognise the rights of our people to freedom of association and collective bargaining and will not tolerate discrimination, harassment or any form of forced, compulsory or child labour. We report our progress in areas such as diversity and health and safety in our Sustainability Report.

Our people can report concerns or suspected cases of misconduct including those relating to human rights through our third party-managed Right to Speak facility, overseen by our internal audit department.

Modern slavery
We do not tolerate any form of modern slavery, forced labour or human trafficking in any part of our business or supply chain. As part of our due diligence processes we have assessed the risk of modern slavery for WPP.

This found the risk of modern slavery to be very low in our direct workforce and among our strategic tier-one suppliers, those with whom we have a direct contractual relationship. During 2017, we will publish our first annual slavery and human trafficking statement in response to the UK’s Modern Slavery Act that will contain more information on our approach. This will be publicly available on our website.

Supplier partners
We expect supplier partners to adopt similar human rights standards to our own and all major supplier partners are asked to sign our Code of Business Conduct – Supplier Version. This includes requirements relating to labour practices (such as wages, anti-harassment and discrimination and health & safety), human rights (including no child, forced or bonded labour), social impacts (such as anti-bribery and corruption) and other sustainability issues. We assess supplier partners in key areas of our supply chain on sustainability risks, including human rights risks.

Wider impacts
Our companies provide creative services to organisations involved in protecting and promoting human rights, often on a pro bono basis. This is our main opportunity to positively promote human rights. We report the value of this work and publish recent examples in our Pro bono book.
Human rights

Our ethical standards

Diversity and inclusion

Health, safety and well-being

Modern Slavery:
See Our client work
See Supply chain

Modern Slavery Transparency Statement

Supply chain

Social investment

Pro bono book
Summary of approach
Location in our reporting


Principle Seven
Business should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;

Principle Eight
undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility;

Principle Nine 
Encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.

Summary of approach
We aim for WPP to be a low-carbon and resource-efficient Group and we support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges such as climate change. Our approach is summarised in our Sustainability Policy.

We focus on:
  • Energy use and climate change: building and IT energy use, renewable energy purchasing, business air travel, videoconferencing and carbon offsetting
  • Resource use: paper, water and waste management
We are close to meeting our target to reduce our per head carbon footprint to 1.8 tonnes, a 47% reduction since 2006. We report our progress annually.

Supplier partners
We aim to select supplier partners who meet high environmental standards and we work with suppliers on environmental issues.

Working with clients
Our companies work with clients on environmental campaigns designed to raise the profile of greener products and services and engage consumers on sustainability issues. We have also analysed the carbon footprint of our value chain and are exploring how we can work with clients to reduce the carbon footprint of media campaigns.

Our companies provide pro bono creative services to organisations involved in environmental protection. We report the value of this work and publish recent examples in our Pro bono book.


Supply chain

Sustainability in marketing

Our wider carbon impact

Pro bono book
Summary of approach
Location in our reporting


Principle 10 
Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.
Summary of approach
The WPP Code of Business Conduct provides the framework for how we operate. It establishes the values and ethical standards that all our companies must implement, including zero tolerance for bribery or corruption. It is supported by detailed policies on anti-bribery and corruption, gifts and entertainment and the appointment of third-party advisors.

Senior managers in all our companies and our business partners and major supplier partners are asked to sign a copy of the WPP Code of Business Conduct each year to confirm they will comply with its principles.

We have a Group-level committee that meets regularly to discuss ethical and compliance issues including risks relating to bribery and corruption.

Our ethics training, ‘How we behave’, is compulsory for all our people. It covers topics such as diversity, human rights and avoiding misleading work. Our online training on anti-bribery and corruption covers the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and UK Bribery Act on issues such as hospitality and gifts, facilitation payments and the use of third-party advisors. All our people are required to complete both sets of training and over 120,000 have done so since the last update in 2016.

Acquisitions and sensitive countries
Our due diligence process for acquisitions and expansion into new markets includes a review of ethical risks including those relating to bribery and corruption, human rights or ethical issues associated with client work. We take steps to ensure that acquired businesses embed our policies and undertake our anti-bribery training.

Supplier partners
Supplier partners must comply with our Anti-Bribery and Corruption Policy and our procurement professionals work with supplier partners to ensure our policy is implemented.
Our ethical standards

Supply chain

Code of Business Conduct