WPP Commits to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Events and Panels

By Erik Oster 

WPP is committing to diversity, equity and inclusion at all panels and events attended by its agencies.

The measure formalizes and extends the holding company’s commitments to promoting greater diversity at events. GroupM chief growth officer Elizabeth McCune addressed the measure in an internal memo sent to GroupM employees today, explaining that it requires that representation in all speaking events is gender balanced and includes BIPOC representation.

She noted that GroupM was added the following policy to its global communications policy manual: “Along with all other WPP agencies we have formally committed only to participate in diverse events and panels, where people of color and different genders are represented. In-line with this pledge, diversity must be considered prior to organizing/agreeing to participate in any panels or events.”


McCune clarified the policy covered both internal and external events. When considering such events, she explained, employees are asked to ask organizers if the engagement meets the “threshold standard for diversity.” If it doesn’t meet these standards, WPP’s policy is to ask organizers if they will reconsider a given panel’s make-up and that if they can’t meet these criteria employees should decline to participate. Employees are asked to employ the same guidelines for agency organized events when considering speakers and participants.

To address any challenges in implementing the policy, GroupM is committing to making talent resources available across regions, with other WPP agencies extending similar commitments. To that end, McCune said GroupM was creating a global resource center acting as a central resource for markets to tap into talent outside their immediate network, which will partner with GroupM even organizer sot ensure its commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion at internal events is met. She also committed to helping any team members evaluate speaking opportunities and, if necessary, provide support to decline an opportunity, as well as to “take immediate action to correct or cancel” any engagements in which criteria are not met.

“We are operating with speed and allowing for autonomy and personal leadership to bring innovation and change,” McCune said near the conclusion of the memo. “Undoubtedly, with that, will come some unintended missteps along the way. But that shouldn’t stop us from being open about those missteps because we have to work harder as a group to be more diverse, or it will never change.”

There doesn’t appear to be any official definition of criteria for what constitutes an acceptable BIPOC representation at events and panels, beyond the statement that such representation must be included. A source with knowledge of the measure suggested this was to provide an opportunity to evolve the policy over time. “Gender neutral” appears to be somewhat less ambiguous.