WPP firms up DEI commitments with first global chief talent and inclusion officer

Live Brief:

  • WPP appointed LJ Louis to the newly created role of global chief talent and inclusion officer, according to a press release. She will report to WPP Chief People Officer Jennifer Remling.
  • Louis will be responsible for growing the agency holding company’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, as well as handling the management, development and acquisition of talent to bring the company in line with racial equity commitments announced in June 2020.
  • WPP’s creation of the new position comes as other ad holding groups of beef up their C-suites with executives dedicated to improving DEI and meeting commitments made in the wake of summer 2020 protests against racist violence.

Live Insight:

With the creation of a global chief talent and inclusion officer role, WPP is enshrining its commitment to improving DEI throughout the company and, in turn, the larger ad industry. WPP CEO Mark Read, in a statement, said the role Louis will play is pivotal in helping to build better futures for the company’s people, clients and communities.

Louis will have a wide remit in bringing priorities, including inclusion, equity, belonging, growth, development, engagement and accountability, in line with WPP’s previous commitments. She joins WPP from WeWork, where she held a similar role responsible for talent acquisition, talent management, employee experience and recognition, talent operations and employer brand.

WPP in June 2020 announced plans to spend $10 million over three years to fund inclusion programs to support Black and minority talent. The move came amid a renewed push for racial equality throughout the ad industry and society at large as protests erupted in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd. In kind, WPP’s GroupM in 2021 launched a Media Inclusion Initiative that seeks to boost client spending with Black-owned media companies.

Such pledges were common with agency holding groups looking to do their part to help clients respond to consumer demands around DEI. Initiatives have taken many forms, from production deals to analytics solutions. Similar to WPP’s latest hiring, IPG in May hired Channing Martin as global chief diversity and social impact officer — a role with a similar purview as the WPP job.

Outside of being part of DEI commitments, the move also seeks to improve WPP’s ability to retain talent during an economy-wide employment crisis that has exacerbated preexisting staffing difficulties faced by agencies.

“We’re committed to ensuring the best possible experience for all our people — so they can build meaningful, fulfilling careers. With a wealth of experience fostering inclusive cultures that attract the very best talent, LJ is the perfect partner to help us on our journey to unlock the creative potential in every WPP employee,” said Remling in the press release.

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