Advertising Gender Equality Pay Gap

WPP reports modest cut in overall gender pay gap at UK agencies


By Sam Bradley | Senior Reporter

March 11, 2021 | 6 min read

80% of WPP companies in the UK have cut their gender pay gaps according to 2019 and 2020 figures released by the group.


WPP has cut its overall gender pay gap, new figures show

The announcement means WPP has made modest progress on the issue, which was found to be worsening in 2019 when the last set of figures were published.

Whats new?

  • Every UK company with more than 250 employees is required by law to report its gender pay gap; firms that do not publish their figures are subject to fines.

  • This year, WPP has published both its 2020 and 2019 figures in a single tranche after the UK government paused statutory gender pay gap reporting last year to ease pressure on businesses affected by the pandemic.

  • While the deadline for UK companies to report their gender pay gaps is 30 March, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which penalizes firms that do not report in time, has added a six month grace period to that deadline.

  • A WPP spokesperson told The Drum: “WPP and its agencies are introducing new global, long-term strategic goals to increase inclusion and diversity of all kinds within the company, with a key aim to achieve greater gender balance at the top. To increase accountability and accelerate the pace of change, with effect from 2021 progress against these goals will be included in business performance reviews and within the incentive schemes of senior leadership across WPP.“

What do the numbers show?

  • The holding company reports two sets of numbers for its UK agency groups; the median pay gap, defined as the difference between the midpoints in the ranges of men’s and women’s pay, and the mean pay-gap, which is the difference in the average hourly rate pay.

  • The median is considered the more representative metric, as the mean can be skewed by a handful of highly paid employees.

  • Across the board, WPP’s consolidated mean gender pay gap fell 2.1% between 2019 and 2020, while its median gender pay gap fell 0.1% in the same period.

  • A gender pay gap still persists in the upper pay quartile of WPP’s 10,000 strong UK workforce, reflecting the disproportionate number of men in senior roles across the group

  • WPP’s report states that while more women than ever are joining its businesses, its ”continued focus will be on driving parity in the upper pay quartile”.

  • The consolidated figures suggest a turnaround in the last two years; in 2019, the group’s consolidated data showed a 0.3% increase in the median gender gap across the group.

  • The table below shows the median pay gaps of WPP’s UK agencies, with comparative figures for 2018 and 2017.

WPP’s gender pay gap

Agency Pay gap % (2020) Pay gap % (2019) Pay gap % (2018) Pay gap % (2017)
Essence Group Global Ltd 21.4 8.6 26.39 N/A
Grey Advertising Ltd 26.5 31.7 27.21 20.3
Hill + Knowlton Ltd 2.6 8.9 15.36 18.4
Hogarth Worldwide Limited 19.4 19.9 21.37 26.7
Wunderman Thompson (previously J Walter Thompson Ltd) 21.4 38.6 34.37 38.8
MediaCom Holdings Limited 4.2 5.2 6.53 11.1
MediaCom North Limited 10.2 11.6 14.9 15.7
Mindshare Media UK Limited 16.2 16 23.68 32.2
Ogilvy & Mather Group (Holdings) Limited 24.7 32.8 21 24.7
Salmon Limited/Wunderman E-commerce 24.5 28.7 28.83 26.6
Wavemaker Global Limited 7.5 10.2 19.29 12.3
WPP 2005 Limited 44.9 38.1 44.69 42.2
WPP Brands (UK) Limited (formerly Y&R) 12.8 14.7 24.79 18.4

Note: AKQA, Kantar Media, Kantar UK and Precise did not appear in WPP’s 2019 and 2020 disclosures, so have been removed from our table. The Farm appeared in previous statistics but was sold in 2019.

Advertising Gender Equality Pay Gap

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