According to the IPA, only 5.5% of adland’s C-suite, and just 13.8% of all employees, come from a BAME background. Separately, we know that while 67% of people in the UK feel companies must embrace diversity in their advertising, 55% of BAME people believe that advertising doesn’t represents the UK’s multicultural society (Credos). Currently, only 12% of people featured in advertising are from a BAME background (Lloyds Banking Group). WPP Roots aims to tackle this disparity in the advertising industry.
INTRODUCING WPP ROOTS
WPP Roots is a professional network driven by individuals passionate about championing greater ethnic and cultural diversity within the advertising industry, our independent agencies and our work.
Since its inception at Ogilvy UK in 2017, Roots has gone from strength to strength, informing talent Management strategies and real client briefs across the network.
Roots is about long-term, effective change, and our continual expansion within WPP is important for building a solid support system for our talent base, encouraging greater collaboration with our partners, and achieving long-term success. Currently, we have 20 Roots networks within our agencies in the UK and US.
“Creativity powers business growth and this only happens by having diversity of talent in the room and reflecting society in the content we create. WPP Roots is an active demonstration that our people are passionate about championing greater ethnic and cultural diversity in all that we do, whether that’s recruitment of talent, retaining talent and the work we create. Roots helps make people feel that they truly belong.”
Karen Blackett OBE, UK Country Manager for WPP, Chairwoman for Mediacom UK&I and UK CEO for GroupM
We are driven by a desire to better inform the way we approach ethnicity, race, culture and religion within our industry, striving for greater, authentic representation within our business, and importantly, our output. We aim to inspire and support both our talent and our clients through open, honest discussion, project-led action, and building a hub to offer a greater spectrum of cultural insights.
We do this with three core values in play: Inclusivity, Action, and Fairness.
WHAT WE DO
Below are our 3 strategic core pillars that we action and some key examples of work.
The Industry: Driving thought-leadership on culturally relevant topics and discussions around race, ethnicity and religion, through events, thought pieces, panel discussions and more.
- Through the Cannes Can: Diversity Collective (CC: DC), we nominate people from across the WPP network to attend the annual Cannes Lions festival and ensure more diverse representation.
- Last week, Shelina Janmohamed, Vice president of Islamic marketing at Ogilvy and Roots committee member, wrote a piece in Campaign magazine on Flaws in Covid-19 response prove diversity is more crucial than ever.
- Roots executive sponsor, Karen Blackett OBE, was a guest editor of Campaign’s February Issue where she spotlighted the work of some of the incredible, diverse talent we have across the industry.
The People: Attracting, retaining and developing talent within the agency, through socials, lunch and learn sessions, workshops and more.
- Each year, we work with Rare recruitment to run The WPP Summer Accelerator Programme – a rotational summer internship programme that aims to develop a pipeline of talented university students from a diversity of backgrounds, skill sets and experiences valuable to WPP.
- Last year, we worked with INvolve – a global consultancy championing diversity and inclusion in businesses – to run workshops for our Roots community on how to build effective ERGs.
- We are currently working with Creative Equals to offer training to some of our senior BAME employees and future leaders on their six-month Accelerate program.
- WPP Roots hosts quarterly events to drive Roots awareness and build our cultural community. In 2019, we run a popular workshop in both our UK and US campuses to discuss how we can tackle Covering in the Workplace and ensure a culture of belonging.
The Work: Pushing for authentic representation within our creative output to better service our clients and their needs, through collaboration on real briefs.
- Ogilvy Roots and Wavemaker pioneered an awareness campaign ‘Change the Facts, Not the Fro’ for World Afro Day 2018.
- Mediacom has developed a Cultural Consultation product which brings external voices into the room, to allow our agencies to better understand minority audiences. Consultants include Tag Warner, CEO of Gay Times and Liv Little, founder of gal-dem. We work with these consultants to develop more meaningful strategies that ensure authentic and relevant campaigns & partnerships for our target audience.