GroupM is aiming to have women in 50% of its senior leadership roles my mid-2016.
The goal was announced by GroupM chairman John Steedman, at the agency network's GroupM Leans In event this morning to mark International Women's Day.
Steedman also announced a raft of initiatives that will roll out across the group this year including increasing maternity leave by between 30% and 130%, depending how long women have worked in the company. It could see women who have been with GroupM for more than five years eligible for 16 weeks maternity leave.
It is also doubling men's paternity leave from two weeks to four and looking at starting an in-house child care centre - although it could be some time coming due to "logistical and legal" considerations.
"Childcare is the most expensive part of having a family, it can be more than sending a child to university," said Steedman.
"We're looking into it seriously and coming up with a plan that will assist parents in our organisation."
There is also a goal for every employee to spend 12 days working outside of the office a year, as a way to challenge the "misconception" that part-time and remote employees don't contribute as much to the business.
"We want to make it easier and encourage women into senior roles," said Steedman.
"I believe it's the right thing to do as a business. You can work in a park, in a cafe, wherever you want - it's good for mental health and it's good for the environment that we work in," he added.
To encourage working away from the office it will implement regular 'floor closures' so that the site won't be open to staff, although Steedman admitted that the logistics were still a work in progress.
It will also be encouraging senior leaders in the business to identify rising talent and work with them to help foster their development through networking, mentoring and career patching opportunities.
All the measures are part of GroupM's efforts to reduce the churn within its agencies and retail talent, at the same time as ensuring a positive working environment.
Steedman referenced the "tough time" the group has had since news of misreporting on client accounts was revealed in December, and reiterated the commitment to being honest open and transparent about the proceedings and audit process that has been underway ever since.
He took the opportunity to remind staff of their 'right to speak' and that there is an anonymous hotline GroupM staff can contact to discuss any issues such as work pressures, discrimination or "being asked to do something you don't believe is right".
For more on how agencies are tackling the barriers women face in the industry, see Making Adland Work for Women, which first appeared in AdNews in the 6 March edition of AdNews. Subsribe here to get your in-print copy or click here for the iPad version.
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