Supply chain

We aim to choose suppliers who share our values and meet our standards for ethical conduct, human rights, workplace standards and the environment. Responsible sourcing reduces risks for WPP and our clients.

Fast read

Our goal

We aim to build a responsible and sustainable supply chain by:

  • Setting clear standards for suppliers
  • Integrating sustainability criteria into supplier selection
  • Identifying and managing risks in key areas of our supply chain
  • Ensuring compliance with legislation such as the UK’s Modern Slavery Act.

Business value

By improving oversight of our supply chain we can identify opportunities to: consolidate spend and reduce costs; protect our reputation and that of our clients; and meet the requirements of the growing number of client tender processes that include supply chain management criteria.

Sustainability impact

By working with suppliers we can have a positive impact on human rights and environmental protection beyond our business.

Challenges and dilemmas

We have a large supply chain. We work with thousands of suppliers, with many buying decisions made at operating company level. This makes it more challenging to ensure consistent standards.

Our current approach focuses on our tier-one suppliers. However, higher-risk practices may be more likely to occur further down the supply chain where we have limited influence.

Management approach

Our Group Procurement team is responsible for managing sustainability in our supply chain with support from our sustainability team.

We expect suppliers to implement standards that are consistent with our own. Our Supplier Code Of Conduct mirrors the Code that applies to all WPP companies and people. The supplier version includes requirements relating to labour practices (such as wages, anti-harassment and discrimination, and health and safety), human rights (including no child, forced or bonded labour, modern slavery), social impacts (such as anti-bribery corruption) as well as other sustainability issues.

Our sustainability team is working with our operating companies to ensure they take a consistent approach to implementing our responsible sourcing standards.

External frameworks

GRI indicators in this section: G4-12, G4-36, G4-58, G4-EN32, G4-LA14, G4-HR1, G4-HR6, G4-HR10

Global Compact Principles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

About our supply chain

We have a large global supply chain buying goods and services from over 130,000 suppliers partners worldwide, with a total global spend of £5.6 billion. Our main categories of spend include goods and services used to run our companies such as IT, travel, telecommunications, professional services and facilities and those used in client work, such as advertising production, market research and other marketing services.

Our key contracts are negotiated centrally with WPP preferred suppliers. These are managed by our Group Procurement Team. Preferred suppliers are appointed following evaluation against assessment criteria, including risk, operational, commercial and sustainability considerations.

Other contracts are negotiated by budget holders within our companies or centrally by WPP budget holders. Each operating company is expected to maintain a list of locally preferred suppliers based upon the formal selection process outlined in WPP’s procurement policy.

​Our sourcing standards

We expect suppliers to implement standards that are consistent with our own. Our Supplier Code Of Conduct mirrors the Code that applies to all WPP companies and people. The supplier version includes requirements relating to labour practices (such as wages, anti-harassment and discrimination, and health and safety), human rights (including no child, forced or bonded labour, modern slavery), social impacts (such as anti-bribery corruption) as well as other sustainability issues. The Code is available on our website https://rapturecity.info/wpp/about/howwebehave/governance/.

Our procurement policy is also aligned with the WPP Data Code of Conduct, our data protection and privacy principles, our Sustainability Policy, and our Human Rights Policy Statement.

We take a risk-based approach to engaging with suppliers, focusing on the countries or sectors where we believe non-compliance with our policies is more likely to occur or where breaches of our Code could have the most significant impact on the reputation of WPP or our clients. We look in particular at impacts related to data security and privacy practices, labour practices and human rights, environment and energy consumption. We use third-party sources to help identify risks, such as Maplecroft.

Our supplier engagement focuses on tier-one supplier partners, those with whom we have a direct commercial relationship. We recognise that high-risk practices may be more likely to occur further down the supply chain, for example among raw material suppliers. We aim to influence standards in our extended supply chain by requiring tier-one suppliers to implement their own supply chain management programs.

Supplier selection and engagement

We evaluate potential new suppliers on factors such as assurance of supply, quality, service, cost, innovation and sustainability. Anyone who buys goods and services in all WPP companies is required to take the following steps when selecting supplier partners:

  • Conduct due diligence to assess whether supplier partners pose a potential financial or reputational risk to WPP or its clients.
  • Assess operational, commercial and sustainability criteria to determine whether supplier partners are fit for purpose.
  • Apply our anti-bribery and corruption policies.
  • Have supplier partners read and sign the WPP Supplier Code of Conduct, confirming that they will comply with our standards.
  • Include a right-to-audit clause in purchase orders where appropriate.

Our sustainability team is working with our operating companies to ensure they take a consistent approach to implementing our responsible sourcing standards.

During 2017, we developed two additional sustainability questionnaires to strengthen our due diligence processes for supplier selection. The first, a pre-selection questionnaire, is for use with all potential new suppliers. It assesses compliance with our core standards for legal compliance, labour and human rights practices, environment and supply chain management. The second, a more detailed information request, will be used with selected suppliers to monitor standards in our supply chain and work with suppliers to address gaps and risk areas.

We piloted the questionnaires with over 100 suppliers in higher risk categories and locations including facilities and promotional goods suppliers in the UK, Asia Pacific and South America.

​Modern slavery

Respect for human rights is a fundamental principle for WPP. We do not tolerate any form of modern slavery in our business or supply chain. We have assessed the risk of modern slavery for WPP. This found that the risk of modern slavery occurring in our operations is very low.

As part of our due diligence processes we have also assessed the risk of modern slavery amongst our preferred suppliers in nine categories. This showed that almost 90% of our spend with preferred supplier partners is in medium- or low-risk categories for modern slavery such as HR and professional services. Higher risk categories include facilities and promotional goods suppliers.

We found that most of our spend with preferred supplier partners (94%) is in countries deemed medium- or low-risk according to Maplecroft’s Modern Slavery Risk Index.

Our Modern Slavery Act Transparency Statement is published on our website and sets out the steps we have taken to ensure that slavery or human trafficking is not taking place in our business and supply chain. Our 2018 statement will include further information and disclosures in response to stakeholder feedback. See rapturecity.info/wpp/about/howwebehave/governance/

​Supplier diversity

We incorporate diverse supplier partners in our supply chain, including small businesses and those owned by women and minorities. This enables us to comply with client requirements in markets such as the US, and can boost innovation and creativity.