Ida Axling
Apr 17, 2024

WPP's internal whistleblower reports rose by 64% in 2023

The agency holding group received reports from 612 whistleblowers last year, up from 372 in 2022.

WPP: Most reports involved
WPP: Most reports involved "respect in the workplace” and “protection of WPP’s assets”

WPP has reported a 64% increase in the number of whistleblower complaints it received in 2023, according to its annual report and accounts.

WPP noted 612 internal whistleblower reports last year, up on the 372 it received in 2022.

However, the figure for 2022 was a 25% drop compared with the 494 whistleblower reports that were recorded in 2021. In 2020 it received 418.

WPP said the most commonly raised concerns in 2023 were about “respect in the workplace” and “protection of WPP’s assets."

According to WPP, the spikes in 2020 and 2021 were due to concerns connected with Covid-19 and lockdowns.

Of the 612 reports in 2023, 476 came through the agency holding company’s Right to Speak hotline. Employees can also voice their concerns about anything that breaches the company’s code of business conduct through employee forums and WPP’s business integrity team.

According to WPP, whistleblower reports are analysed, with learnings used to help find solutions to problems and to identify potential risks.

In 2023, the biggest identified risk impact was people, representing 64% of complaints. This was down on 82% in 2022.

The second largest risk impact in 2023 was legal and regulatory (16%), followed by financial (8%), clients (6%), operational (5%) and data privacy, security and ethics (1%).

WPP said every concern was logged, investigated and reported to the company’s audit committee by its business integrity function and “tracked through to a conclusion."

The report said: “WPP is committed to providing a safe and confidential way for people with genuine concerns to raise them, and to do so without fear of reprisals.

"WPP does not tolerate any retaliatory behaviour against individuals reporting concerns and is equally committed to preserving the anonymity of an individual who makes a report and does not wish to have their identity revealed.”

Three of the “big six” holding companies—WPP, Publicis Groupe and Dentsu—publish global complaint figures.

A WPP spokesperson said: “Since 2018, we have been focused on creating a culture that is open and inclusive and where our 114,000 people feel confident to speak up and raise concerns. As a key part of this commitment, we continue to actively publicise our Right to Speak hotline service, which our people, suppliers and other third parties can use to raise any issues anonymously and confidentially. This has driven a rise in the number of calls as people become more aware of the service and more willing to report issues.” 

Campaign UK

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