Monday, March 07, 2016

13116: WPP Profits From Diversity…?

A MultiCultClassics visitor pointed to The Drum writing about WPP integrating diversity into its latest financial report. The holding company is in the black—but there are few Blacks in the holding company. What’s most outrageous about WPP’s presentation is that the money figures are precise—right down to exact percentage points—while the diversity statements are vague and patronizing puffery.

According to The Drum, WPP has “‘always been conscious of the need for diversity in the workplace’ but not through a sense of moral responsibility.” The quarterly P&L reports, on the other hand, reflect a sense of fiscal responsibility. So what sense of responsibility does WPP assign to diversity?

“While we have never believed that only a teenager can understand a teenager or only a pensioner can understand a pensioner, there can be no doubt that diversity among our people is a professional necessity,” explained WPP. “For us, diversity is not simply a question of race, colour or gender; at least as important is a diversity of attitude, of mind-set, of ways of approaching problems. Uniform, conventional thinking will never of itself meet the demands of our clients.” Does this mean WPP feels a professional responsibility to foster diversity in the workplace? And if so, how will the professional responsibility be implemented, enforced and measured?

“The results reported here, presented in dispassionate numbers, are all the product of the inventive work of tens of thousands of talented individuals—and with no two alike,” stated WPP. “They come from countless different backgrounds and have countless different ways of looking at the world. They embody skills that range from the statistician to the screenwriter. They represent perhaps the most diverse example of diversity of any single organization.” Okay, then why does the advertising industry still admit to having a huge problem with diversity? WPP’s “most diverse example of diversity” sounds like the stereotypical smokescreen and/or pure bullshit. Hell, WPP leadership doesn’t even qualify as diverted diversity, in terms of the representation of White women.

When it comes to financial reports, WPP is extraordinarily thorough with its accounting. Yet when addressing diversity, WPP is extraordinarily thoughtless with its accountability.

WPP salutes its diverse workforce as it reports revenue and profit growth

By Stephen Lepitak

WPP took the opportunity to celebrate the diversity of its global workforce as it reported a 6.1 per cent growth in revenue to £12,235bn within its preliminary results for 2015, with headline profit at £1.245bn, an increase of 8.1 per cent.

The world’s largest advertising agency network saw billings increase by 3.1 per cent to £47.6bn with pre-tax profit up by 2.8 per cent to £1.5bn which benefited from restructuring costs set at £106m, IT transformation costs of £37m, investment write-downs valued at £79m and IT asset write-downs of £29m. The company also gained Chime Communications in a deal with private equity firm, Providence, agreed a strategic alliance through Kantar with Comscore and purchased IBOPE in Latin America.

During 2015, the group competed 52 transactions, 18 of which were investments and acquisitions made in new market, with 37 in quantitative and digital sectors and eight driven by individual client needs, it revealed.

By region, North American reported revenue increased by 15.2 per cent, the United Kingdom by 8.4 per cent, Western Continental Europe declined by 5.6 per cent while Asia-Pacific, Latin America, the Americas and Central and Eastern Europe combined saw a reported increase of 3.5 per cent.

2016 started with January bringing in like-for-like revenue increase of 4.2 per cent, with sales up 2.3 per cent on the previous year. A further 15 acquisition and investment deals have been so far in 2016, WPP revealed, with one in advertising and media investment management, two in data investment management, three in PR and seven in direct, digital and interactive. One has also been made in sports marketing and another in healthcare.

Within the report, chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell, highlighted the uncertainty created by the upcoming ‘Brexit’ referendum in June, as well as the falling cost of oil.

Curiously, in concluding its report, WPP took the opportunity to highlight the diversity of its workforce; stating that it had “always been conscious of the need for diversity in the workplace” but not through a sense of moral responsibility.

“While we have never believed that only a teenager can understand a teenager or only a pensioner can understand a pensioner, there can be no doubt that diversity among our people is a professional necessity. For us, diversity is not simply a question of race, colour or gender; at least as important is a diversity of attitude, of mind-set, of ways of approaching problems. Uniform, conventional thinking will never of itself meet the demands of our clients,” it stated.

“The results reported here, presented in dispassionate numbers, are all the product of the inventive work of tens of thousands of talented individuals — and with no two alike. They come from countless different backgrounds and have countless different ways of looking at the world. They embody skills that range from the statistician to the screenwriter. They represent perhaps the most diverse example of diversity of any single organisation,” it added.

The group currently employs 190,000 people full time across 3,000 offices in 112 countries.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

WPP represents perhaps the most diverse example of diversity of any single organisation?

Really? It wasn't enough to cover his tracks with made up diversity percentages, he had to go for the "We're really the gold standard" message?

As someone who has worked for multiple WPP agencies, it depresses me to think that maybe WPP is indeed the best it's going to get. Which if I had to guess was about 1% Black, 2% American Latino, 2% Asian-American and 0% Native American nationwide in the US in meaningful positions.

All aboard!!!! said...

It's ok, they have the white women stats and we all know that's where the real gold is.

In related news:
The Ad Club of New York's I'mPart diversity initiative is launching a $100,000 investment in up-and-coming female professionals, along with hosting our inaugural Master Class Series -- the first of which will focus on women in advertising and related industries.

Last year they wrote an ad age piece about overall diversity

The Advertising Industry Needs Diverse Leadership to Thrive
As U.S. Nears Diversity Tipping Point, Ad Industry Needs to Take the Lead
http://adage.com/article/agency-viewpoint/advertising-industry-diverse-leadership-thrive/297998/

This year it's all aboard the (white) women express.

It's Time for Our Industry to Take Action on Inclusion
Ad Club's Sponsorship for Women Is a Step in the Right Direction
http://adage.com/article/guest-columnists/time-industry-action-inclusion/302993/?utm_source=daily_email&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=adage&ttl=1458000584

Anonymous said...

The primary beneficiaries of these gender diversity initiatives are always, and will continue to be, white women.

Now that there's money and financial incentives on the table, you're going to see any minority males* who've made progress pushed aside, and minority females shoved to the back of the line.

* and by minority I mean ethnic minorities in America, not foreign visa holders trotted out to show ad agency clients how diverse the agency is when trying to close a contract. We all know how that scam works.