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WPP gender pay gap stats: agencies have cut divide 1.9% since 2020

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By Sam Bradley | Senior Reporter

April 4, 2022 | 6 min read

New figures show that the gender pay gap at agencies owned by WPP has closed by almost 2% in the last year, with significant progress made at Wunderman Thompson, MediaCom North and Essence.

The data was released as part of the mandatory gender pay gap reporting British companies publish each year.

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WPP has managed to close its gender pay gap by almost 2%

Overall, WPP employs more women (53%) than men, but pays its male staff a median of 15.6% more than their female counterparts – 1.9% less than in 2020, when the median gap was 17.5%.

The mean pay gap, considered a less representative measure, was 22.2% in 2021 and 24.6% in 2020.

Jennifer Remling, chief people officer at WPP, said: “Investing in a culture where diversity thrives and everyone has the opportunity to do their best work powers our creativity and growth as a business.

“While we have seen a reduction in our UK gender pay gap across WPP, we need to continue to invest in the development of women at all levels to help them achieve their full potential. We know that progress relies on accountability so we now track our progress against DE&I goals that are linked to leaders’ compensation and quarterly reviews.”

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The British holding company’s agencies in the UK include Ogilvy, VMLY&R and AKQA. Some of its smaller subsidiaries were excluded from the data, as British law on gender pay gap reporting only affects businesses with more than 250 staff.

Several WPP agencies saw major progress. At Mediacom North, the median pay gap fell from 10.2% in 2020 to just 0.6% in 2021, while Wunderman Thompson cut its pay gap from 21.4% to 13.8% and WPP Health cut its median gap by almost 6% to 11.5.%.

According to the company’s report: “Our pay and bonus gaps reflect the lower proportion of women in our upper pay quartiles, representing the most senior roles within the company.” The proportion of women in top-earning roles has increased in recent years, however – in 2021, women accounted for 42% of its staff in the top pay quartile, a 4% increase from 2017 when data was first published.

Agency Pay gap % (2021-22) Pay gap % (2020-21) Difference %
MediaCom North 0.6 10.2 -9.6
MediaCom Holdings 7.8 4.2 3.6
Wavemaker 8.5 7.5 1
Hill & Knowlton 8.5 2.6 5.9
WPP Brands* 9.4 12.8 -3.4
WPP Health 11.5 17.1 -5.6
Wunderman Thompson 13.8 21.4 -7.6
Hogarth Worldwide 15.8 19.4 -3.6
Essence Global 16.8 21.4 -4.6
Mindshare Media 16.9 16.2 0.69
Salmon Ltd/Wunderman Thompson Commerce 21.8 24.5 -2.7
Ogilvy & Mather 23 24.7 -1.7
WPP 2005 23.6 44.9 -21.3

*WPP Brands is the formal name for VML&YR.

Wavemaker and Mediacom have managed to cut their pay gaps in successive years. Rob Jane, Wavemaker’s chief talent officer, previously told The Drum how the company had made progress on the issue.

The largest change, and also the largest remaining gap, is at WPP 2005 – not an agency, but the parent company of WPP’s businesses in the UK. Its median gap was previously 44.9% and is now 23.6%.

The deadline for British companies to release their gender pay gap data for the 2021 financial year is today (April 4), but WPP published its figures ahead of most UK corporations. The table above shows the median pay gap at each of WPP’s eligible UK agencies.

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