WPP's Youthful Workforce

Well Mark Read really stepped in it, didn’t he?

That is, with his remarks about the youthfulness of the WPP workforce, which was made after an analyst baited him with a question about whether WPP’s staff was facile enough to keep up with all the cutting-edge technology agencies need to know to service clients properly.

My guess is WPP’s workforce is about as youthful as every other holding company’s staff. They’re all known for hiring young and cheap, and thus the endless debate about why Adland can’t keep and retain the best talent. Answer: They’re in other fields making better money.

If the analyst had baited Read with a question about the youthful inexperience of WPP’s workforce, I’m sure Read could have spouted statistics about the vast multidisciplinary experience of some percentage of the company’s workforce.

But the fact is, Adland has a much bigger workforce issue: lack of diversity. For years, the industry has acknowledged the problem albeit with a shrug and a whine: “We can’t find them? Where are they?” 



Well, 600 & Rising certainly called BS in a very meaningful way on that lame excuse a few months back, prompting all sorts of new commitments to diversify. 

Usually, just throwing money at a problem without a smart plan isn’t a viable solution. 

But in this case, money is definitely a big part of the solution. You want the best and the brightest and most diverse workforce you can muster? Ante up! 

This industry is very adaptable. The wise financial wizards in it have figured out ways to permanently save hundreds of millions during the pandemic. 

Read answered a can’t-win question — no matter how he answered it. Rightfully, he’ll likely let the tempest pass and get on with business. He and the other company holding chiefs say making Adland a more attractive place to work — for everyone—is a top priority. 

Let’s hope they mean it this time.

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