Commentary

WPP Discloses Gender Pay Gap Report

Just in time for Women’s History Month, WPP is out with its first report detailing the gender pay gap at its UK operations. 

In case your wondering why the holding company is being so transparent in this regard, it’s because it’s required by law. So progressive of the UK, soon to become an island unto itself once Brexit is finalized. 

Anyway, it’s a pretty detailed report that breaks out pay gap stats agency by agency for those treated as individual operating companies with 250 or more employees.  Overall, the median pay gap is 14.1% across those agencies. WPP says that's better at least than the equivalent national figure, which it says is 18.4%. 

But the number jumps to 25.5% if you look at the mean figure. And if you’re looking for a rough U.S. comparison, it’s about 20%, according to the Institute For Women’s Policy Research. But that's nationwide across all industries.

Per its report, WPP has a nearly gender-balanced workforce in the UK: 51% men and 49% women. But there are fewer women in senior executive roles, where pay is highest, which results in a gender pay gap. Per the holding company, that’s reflective of the wider ad industry in the UK, where just 30.9% of C-Suite roles are held by women. 

It’s also worth pointing out, as the report does, that the gender pay gap is the difference between the average earnings of all men and women in an organization. That’s different from equal pay, which is the legal requirement — at least in the UK — for people carrying out the same or similar work to be paid equally, regardless of gender. 

By agency, JWT has the largest pay gap, a whopping 44.7% on a median basis. AKQA was up there with a 30.5% gap (median). At the opposite end of the scale, Kantar Media had a pay gap that skewed in favor of women by 12.7%. 

Karen Blackett, UK Country Manager, WPP, acknowledged the company and industry “need to do more to change the gender profile of our leadership teams if we are to close our pay gap. We are placing an even greater emphasis on the development of female leaders, which includes actively promoting best practice in recruitment, training, mentoring, parental leave and flexible working within our companies.” 

It would be great to see comparable industry figures in the U.S. Call me crazy, but I just don’t think it’s a high priority for the Trump Administration. 

For more detail on the WPP report, look here.

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