In the wake of the global protest movement sparked by the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd, WPP unveiled today a set of commitments and actions to help combat racial injustice and support Black and other minority talent.
The UK-based holding company said it would take “decisive action” on each of the 12 points in the “Call For Change” open letter to Adland issued by 600 black advertising professionals last week.
Those actions include a thorough review of hiring and professional development practices and disclosing racial diversity data of the firm’s workforce.
The open letter also called for the industry to invest more in the career paths of Black employees and take measurable step to improve Black representation in senior management as well as provide mandatory anti-racism training for leaders and HR employees. WPP said a number of its agencies have already taken many of the actions addressed in the letter but that now the firm “will implement all 12 throughout WPP on an accelerated timescale.”
Mark Read, CEO of WPP, said: “Over the last three weeks, I have heard an outpouring of pain, anger and frustration from Black colleagues, along with clear demands for change. This is the moment to embrace that change, and to use our creativity, our scale and our influence to make a difference in the fight against racism. WPP must support and elevate Black employees, and those from other under-represented groups, not as a diversity and inclusion initiative but as a business and moral imperative.”
WPP said it would invest $30 million over three years to fund inclusion programs inside and outside the company.
The firm also pledged to work with clients, suppliers, competitors, industry bodies and others “to ensure that Black and minority ethnic talent if fairly represented not only in the work but in our industry and wider networks.”
That includes a commitment to participate in events and panels only where people of color are represented. And the firm will redouble its own efforts to recruit people of color from within its own ranks to represent the company as speakers at various industry events.
The firm is also committing millions to anti-racism charities and will offer pro bono services to support organizations fighting racism and addressing issues that affect Black and other minority communities.
WPP has also created a new Global Inclusion Council that will work with Read and the company’s executive committee to make sure the new commitments are met. Advising the council will be a task force dedicated to advancing the opportunities and interests of black employees at the company.
The company also said that agency network leaders have committed to the new plan and would be held accountable for delivering all commitments within their businesses.