Marketing & the Marginalized Work & Wellbeing

WPP reveals first successful applications to its Racial Equity Program


By Ellen Ormesher | Reporter

September 23, 2021 | 5 min read

WPP has announced the nine creative projects it has chosen to help advance racial justice across the world as part of its Racial Equity Program.

The initiative, which was launched back in June as part of a wider set of commitments and actions to help combat racial injustice and support Black and ethnically-marginalized talent, saw WPP pledge to invest $30m over a three-year period to fund inclusion programs and to support external organizations.

The first round of applications was assessed by peers from relevant markets to account for cultural distinctions and differences, against a rigorous set of criteria. Proposals with the highest aggregated scores were then reviewed by a newly-formed Commissioning Council made up of senior leaders from across the WPP network.

Black Lives Matter flag

The initiative forms part of WPP’s wider commitment to tackling racial injustice/Image via WPP

What were the successful applications?

  • A pioneering research project driven by WPP Roots (WPP’s professional network championing greater ethnic and cultural diversity), Ogilvy Growth & Innovation and GroupM, which aims to change the conversation with data-driven insights about Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic audiences in the UK and create meaningful inclusivity in the industry.

  • The Detroit Experience Studio, an initiative led by VMLY&R, UWG and GTB to increase the career opportunities for Detroit’s Black and brown students who are exploring a creative future, to bring awareness where there is no informed path, and to enable them to flourish among the best and brightest talent.

  • Online classes through AKQA’s SOMA+ platform to expand the professional knowledge of 1,000 Black, Indigenous and low-income students in Brazil. Five students will subsequently be selected to work at AKQA’s office in São Paulo for nine months, where they’ll have the chance to receive exclusive mentoring, as well as take part in a special project based on their personal ambition.

    The latest marketing news and insights straight to your inbox.

    Get the best of The Drum by choosing from a series of great email briefings, whether that’s daily news, weekly recaps or deep dives into media or creativity.

    Sign up
  • A 10-week WPP training program to help underrepresented minority veterans in the US – who are up to 44% more likely to be unemployed following their military service than non-minority veterans – become extraordinary project managers, client leaders and more.

  • A partnership-driven project spearheaded by Wunderman Thompson Health, working with the Health4Equity Center of Excellence (COE) to help address the needs of multiple racial segments experiencing a disparity in health outcomes. The project team will establish partnerships with various Inclusion, Equity and Diversity organizations to formalize a process for thought-leadership and develop innovative solutions to advance progress toward health equity.

Mark Read, chief executive officer of WPP, said of the initiative: “These bold and creative ideas from our agencies were chosen because of their potential to create meaningful and lasting change. They reflect the passion of the project teams involved, and a collective sense of determination right across WPP to deliver our commitments to promote racial justice.”

Stacie Graham, global racial equity program director of WPP, concluded: “The projects really show how we can build on existing initiatives at WPP that will not only change our internal landscape but also positively impact members of society who have been historically overlooked and underestimated. Racial equity and, more broadly, inclusion and belonging are not problems to be solved – rather they represent a shifted lens through which creative transformation becomes possible.”

WPP’s Racial Equity Program team is now preparing for the next round of applications, which opens in January 2022.

Marketing & the Marginalized Work & Wellbeing

More from Marketing & the Marginalized

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +