WPP memo reminds staff of company values as chairman faces investors at crucial AGM

Josh Mines
SportAccord - Day 4
Sorrell has faced a number of allegations this week over his conduct a the company (Source: Getty)

A WPP memo has reminded staff of the company's values and whistle-blowing procedures, just as chairman Roberto Quarta prepares to fend off a shareholder rebellion at the firm's annual general meeting (AGM) after a roller-coaster week.

Investors will vote on whether to reinstate Quarta and the WPP board, and are set to decide on the company's remuneration report, which includes a hefty payout for former chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell.

It follows reports this week that claimed to lift the lid on WPP's investigation into its chief executive which led to him leaving the company in April, as well as allegations around Sorrell's personal conduct towards staff at the company.

A memo from interim boss and chief operating officer of the company, Mark Read said: "You will no doubt have read the press coverage this week about WPP and Martin Sorrell, including allegations about his behaviour towards people at the parent company.

Read more: WPP chair Quarta given boost by shareholder groups as crunch vote looms

"Although we can’t comment on specific allegations, I feel we should remind ourselves of and reinforce the kind of values we want and need to have within every part of our business: values of fairness, tolerance, kindness and – again – respect."

Read also reminded employees of the company's "Right to Speak" whistle blowing helpline, which is supposed to allow staff to raise issues without fear of repercussions.

He also committed to a review of WPP's policies and codes of conduct, as well as how it can make improvements in the future.

"We all want WPP and its agencies to continue to be home to the world’s best talent, which means creating a positive, supportive and inclusive culture in every office," he concluded. "More importantly, it’s the right thing to do."

The memo comes ahead of what is set to be a stormy meeting for WPP and its shareholders.

Yesterday, the US's second largest pension fund and a large WPP shareholder Calstrs said it would not be supporting Quarta's reinstatement as chairman.

Investor adviser Hermes EOS said it would oppose the remuneration report, while backing Quarta to take the company forward as chairman. Another top 10 shareholder Harris Associates said it would also support Quarta.

A Sky News report on Monday suggested that as many as 20 per cent of investors are expected to oppose Quarta's leadership. A large proportion are also expected to vote against the remuneration report.

Read more: WPP annual general meeting to get ‘heated’ over Sorrell exit pay

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