Tuesday 5 March 2019 2:15 pm

WPP needs to revamp culture to attract the best people, says boss

WPP must create a more open culture if it is to attract the best people in the industry, chief executive Mark Read said today.

“WPP is really just about people at the end of the day,” he said at the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) conference this morning.

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“We can complicate it with restructuring and earnings and all that other stuff, but ultimately we need to make WPP the destination for the best people in our industry.”

The advertising boss said staff must be given the opportunity to do their best work and be properly rewarded. He also said the company must tackle issues around inclusivity and diversity.

“If people are open it means they partner well. They partner well with clients, with Google and Facebook and they partner well with each other in the organisation,” Read said.

The overhaul of the firm’s corporate culture comes amid a £300m three-year transformation plan that will see 3,500 jobs cut amid a shift to digital.

WPP’s internal culture has also been put under the spotlight after founder Sir Martin Sorrell’s dramatic exit last year amid allegations of misconduct.

Read did not refer to his predecessor, but said the advertising group is looking to create a culture that reflects its individual agencies.

“I think we talk a little bit more about culture because when WPP was a financial holding company it didn’t really have a culture, and I feel that WPP’s culture should reflect the culture of the companies inside the group,” he said.

The firm last week hired Walmart executive Jacqui Canney as its new global chief people officer in a bid to “help build a new culture that empowers people to do their best work.”

But WPP's latest gender pay gap report, published last week, showed its median pay gap has increased over the last year.

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“We need to do better and we’re committed to promoting more women within the organisation,” Read said.

“I don’t know how I feel about setting targets, but it’s probably helpful that these things are made public, because it forces us to address the issue and look and it more than we’ve done,” he added.