WPP AUNZ has formally announced a target of 50:50 gender distribution in senior leadership roles across the company by 2021.
Currently 39% of senior roles are are held by women across WPP in Australia and New Zealand.
John "Steady" Steedman, executive director and interim CEO, has challenged the rest of adland to follow.
Steedman made reference to his goal for gender balance when he was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame at the 2018 Agency of the Year Awards.
"I am calling on my other industry colleagues to also put in targets and quotas for diversity and inclusion," he said in his acceptance speech.
"There are a number of other initiatives surrounding inclusion and diversity that we are addressing including age and cultural and linguistic diversity, and we have a way to go.
"But we have to move fast on gender parity in our leadership. Then maybe the next person who lists the hall of famers before me will be able to quote a woman in the ranks."
Today Steedman gave more detail on his initiative, calling it a fundamental step to ensure depth and breadth of thinking in the industry.
“Diversity is not a women’s issue, it is a business imperative. It demands all of us to be smarter, more open and optimistic about our future," he says.
"Any leader appointment is based on ability; however, we will ensure that we have a strong pipeline of diverse candidates when filling these senior roles.”
During the past two years WPP AUNZ has introduced Walk the Talk aiming to empower women with the tools to lift up into senior roles. Almost 300 women participate in the program.
The company has also signed up to the Diversity Council of Australia and Diversity Works in New Zealand and is running company-wide diversity and inclusion surveys to benchmark expectations, plus using alternative recruitment to ensure a diverse workplace including: Career Seekers (for asylum seeker and refugee interns); Career Trackers (for Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander recruitment); and Talent Rise (education and job-ready programs for marginalised youth).
Last year WPP AUNZ launched a market-leading parental leave policy in Australia, for both primary and secondary carers. Employees will be paid up to 16 weeks full salary depending on length of tenure.
“The rationale for all these programs is simple; every person, regardless of their age, caring responsibilities, cultural background, disability, gender, Indigenous background, sexual orientation and socio-economic background deserves to feel like they have a workplace where they belong," says Steedman.
"Where they are valued for their thinking and contribution. And this sense of belonging will ultimately result in a better business, and better industry for us all."
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