WPP has joined its industry peers in releasing US diversity data and it makes pretty horrible reading. WPP, it seems, has the lowest percentage of black executives at a scarcely believable 2.2%.
CEO Mark Read says: “We have a huge amount of work to do. We are not proud of these numbers, and they demonstrate the scale of the task ahead of us.”
Overall 70% are white (mostly male probably) in line with the other ad holding companies. Adweek has the gory details.
CEO Read has already announced a number of measures, costing $30m it seems, in the wake of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter but this mountain looks like it needs more than good intentions.
For decades WPP looked like a white boys’ club, especially in its all-powerful media operation GroupM – with some exceptions admittedly, like MediaCom’s Karen Blackett in the UK.
It’s especially embarrassing for Read as he now has a board loaded with feisty females – the latest is former Burberry and Apple boss Angela Ahrendts – who, presumably, won’t stand for any more of this nonsense. The revelations could overshadow WPP’s forthcoming half year results presentation.
Former boss (and company founder) Sir Martin Sorrell may also find himself on the spot.
This is really unfair. Weren’t there widespread reports that former WPP CEO Martin Sorrell used his WPP corporate card to enrich countless women in bordellos around the globe?