Rose Herceg
Mar 8, 2022

Diversity fuels creativity: WPP’s Rose Herceg on the power of building gender inclusive cultures

Rose Herceg, president of WPP in Australia and New Zealand, reflects on how we can drive women forward in their careers and address gender disparity in our workplaces.

Diversity fuels creativity: WPP’s Rose Herceg on the power of building gender inclusive cultures
Today is a landmark moment. Today we celebrate women’s achievements and raise awareness of the progress made toward gender equality, while reflecting on where there’s room to grow.
I am grateful to be part of a company that is committed to advancing gender diversity in our workplace. I am grateful to be surrounded by inspirational female leaders who find joy in their work and inspire others to fall in love with what they do every day.
At WPP, women make up 51% of senior managers and 40% of our most senior executives. Last year, we were ranked 10th in the FTSE 100 rankings for Women on Boards, and we were just recognised in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index for the fourth consecutive year.  
Greater gender balance in leadership roles leads to better company performance, enhanced productivity, and greater profitability. In fact, research by McKinsey & Company found that gender-diverse companies outperform their national industry averages on profitability. 
When it comes to the communications sector specifically, diversity fuels creative thought. To push the boundaries of our creative capacity, we need women driving key creative and marketing decisions. Given that the majority of purchasing decisions are made by women, it is paramount that their needs and preferences are reflected in the conversations created by brands via the skills of women. 
And while our industry is making progress when it comes to improving gender balance in the workplace, we aren’t at the finish line. It’s important that we recognise barriers to career progression alongside the changing workplace values and needs of women across age groups, demographics and ethnicities so we can continue to strive for improved gender inclusive cultures. 
Our youngest employees are entering the workplace with a new set of priorities and ambitions. They started scrolling when they started crawling and are politically progressive. When choosing where to work, they prioritise diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. In a Generation Z survey by talent recruitment platform Tallo, 99% of respondents said they considered workplace DEI important, with 87% responding that it is very important. 
For those women balancing career and caring responsibilities, a recent industry-wide census revealed 53% believe parental leave has a negative impact on their career progression, in comparison with 5% of men asked. This has been further exacerbated by COVID-19, where employees—and especially women—are feeling burnt out trying to navigate the responsibilities of managing a household while working. 
Menopause, which typically impacts women aged 45–55, is another significant issue. While often not discussed, this natural transition occurs for every person assigned female at birth within their lifetime. It can lead to multiple, and at times, difficult, physical and mental health symptoms that women have to navigate while at work. In some instances, the impact of a lack of workplace awareness and understanding, together with the nature of this transition, can result in women leaving their jobs altogether. 
A strong focus on providing initiatives that support and drive our female employees forward, coupled with a commitment to hold ourselves accountable for greater diversity, is fundamental to ensure we can address gender disparity in our workplace. 
At WPP, this starts with our NextGen Leaders programme that provides learning, growth and professional development opportunities for early-career talent. It continues with our Walk The Talk initiative, designed to unlock potential and unearth challenges among our female leaders. Our commitment resides in our dedicated global Inclusion Council to ensure accountability in delivering our diversity, equity and inclusion agenda.
We, as an industry, must continue to advance gender inclusivity. We must show up as active allies of women across ethnicities, ages, and backgrounds. 
If we can encourage women into our industry from an early age and support them to exceed every step of the way and overcome prevalent barriers, we all benefit from the extraordinary depth of talent, experience and leadership that thrives when we embrace diversity.
Over the long-term, this will only create a more profound set of role models that influence, inspire, motivate, and provoke curiosity in others to come forward and also lead our industry.
Gender diversity is a goal that each one of us should strive for, every single day.


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