Sorrell On The Flow Of Huddled Masses
If it hadn’t been for the UK’s previously less restrictive immigration policy, Martin Sorrell might be toiling in the oil fields of Romania today instead of running the world’s largest agency holding company, WPP.
“Not everyone would see that as a problem!” Sorrell quipped earlier this week in a column penned for LinkedIn’s “Influencers” section.
In fact, the WPP chief would also have a different name. Both sets of grandparents immigrated to the UK from Eastern Europe at around the turn of the 20th century, he notes, and his father changed the family name. He doesn’t spell out specifically why his dad did that, but it was likely to aid the family’s assimilation into the UK culture.
Sorrell was making the broader point that both the U.S. and the UK risk hurting their economies if Immigration reform—currently being debated in both countries—is crafted in ways that make the policies more restrictive than they already are.
The issue has an impact on the major holding companies which are global enterprises. “As we at WPP can testify,” he said, “recruiting from countries within the European Union is relatively easy…bringing in highly skilled people from outside the region is not.”
“Immigrants are a hugely important driver of innovation and entrepreneurialism—traits that spur economic growth,” Sorrell argued.
Sorrell cites statistics showing that 40% of Silicon Valley engineering and tech start-ups founded between 2006 and 2012 had at least one key founder who was foreign born.
“If the U.S. wants more Sergey Brins, Andy Groves and Elon Musks, and the UK wants some of its own, there needs to be an enlightened approach to policy,” Sorrell argues. “The debate must be had, but let’s not cut off this lifeblood and everything we gain from it.”