BLM response: Wavemaker

BAME staff figures not stated. Agency says its holding company WPP is aligning its agencies around a "singular approach" and will publish the data "as soon as they are able to".

BLM response: Wavemaker

New initiatives

As the BLM movement gained momentum this summer, we were nearing the end of a global project to develop and align Wavemaker’s approach to diversity and inclusion (see below). Our policies have absolutely been influenced by BLM, and they also take into account all our pillars of diversity; age, culture (ethnicity, religion, social class), gender, LGBTQ+, enable (physical ability, mental health, neurodiversity).  

Our commitment to our D&I framework has been in development for the past two years, but the surge in the BLM movement this year showed us the importance of listening to different perspectives across our workforce. We held a number of interactive sessions across WPP, GroupM and other agencies to give a platform for all experiences to be heard. The results of these workshops have influenced the way we have structured our global approach and framework, committing to conscious listening, education and actions. In line with Wavemaker’s “positive provocation” attitude, we have also created a “challenger executive committee”; a diverse cross-section of talent who now provide a different voice in how we run our agency. We are setting this up in our three regions, with the view of hardwiring this voice in everything we do, as well as provide personal support, mentoring and insight for our original Executive Committee (EXCO) members. 

We have active employee resource groups (ERGs), WM Roots in the UK and WM Melanin in the US, who have held a series of events and frank conversations in response to BLM. We have been working closely with GM and WPP to ensure we align with WPP’s policy of being an anti-racist organisation.

Existing initiatives

Wavemaker embraces all kinds of difference: different voices, the other angle, the counter point. However, we are aware that (as with most organisations) we need to do better. Therefore, back in September 2019, we commissioned Kantar to conduct inclusion index research across six markets (China, Germany, India, Mexico, UK, USA) to understand how our employees think we are doing on diversity and inclusion. The findings from this research, as well as employee data, in-depth interviews with global stakeholders from all levels of the organisation and interviews with Wavemaker Leaders were used as input for a global project to develop a cohesive and co-ordinated global D&I strategy. 

Our 14 global D&I champions came together in June (postponed from March due to COVID 19) to develop the strategy. We have five commitments; to listen, educate, act, measure and communicate. Each of these commitments has specific actions with goals and KPIs. The plan was launched this month, and every market is developing their local plans for September.  We have appointed Anna Hickey, global client president, as Wavemaker’s D&I EXCO Champion. We have committed to D&I action plans being reviewed quarterly by EXCO members globally and locally, with the regional chief executives accountable for delivering Wavemaker’s D&I plans. 

Above and beyond the great work being done at a GroupM and WPP level, we have a number of global programmes aimed at ensuring all employees feel that they belong, whatever their background. 

We have mandated “conscious inclusion” training for all staff and we have active ERGs which are now connected globally across Wavemaker. We also have various market specific activities. In the US, our town hall was led by Melanin, our Black/LatinX ERG, to have an honest conversation about how our black employees are feeling. The results from this allowed us to create SMART goals to help us improve our culture. The US also launched a quarterly inclusion survey, with a commitment to be transparent about the results, accelerated the launch of our mentorship programme for mid-level people of colour (StepUp at Wavemaker), and have publicly committed to ensuring that at least 50% of our new associate hires are Black and LatinX. 

The UK has a series of “Candid Conversations” where under-represented voices are given the opportunity to discuss their experiences and develop strategies for inclusion with senior leaders. We have partnered with “WeSpeak”, an organisation that introduces young people from under-represented backgrounds to the world of advertising communications, it pairs the young people with mentors from Wavemaker who support them in their career journey. This summer we collaborated with WeSpeak and WPP to put 30 sixth formers from local Sixth Forms through WPP’s Next Generation Intern programme. We will be holding a graduation with the interns, hosted by our chief executive, in September. 

BAME pay gap

Our holding company WPP, in partnership with GroupM, is currently looking at ethnicity pay gap data. This is a huge project requiring new systems and validation of data. Any data that is shared will be done at a group level by WPP.

Return to main feature page