WPP is discontinuing its operations in Russia in a show of support for Ukraine and the international community in condemning the Russian invasion. According to WPP, the invasion has "created a humanitarian crisis in the heart of Europe" and its ongoing presence in Russia would be "inconsistent with its values as a company".
The network has nearly 1,400 employees in Russia and WPP thanked them for their commitment to the company and their clients. "We deeply regret the impact of this decision on our Russian colleagues. We will provide support to them and work closely with our clients and partners as we discontinue our activities in the country," WPP said.
According to The Wall Street Journal , Russia accounted for only 0.6% of its global net sales in 2021. The company described its Russian employees to be "dedicated and valued members of [the] organisation". WPP CEO Mark Read (pictured) said in an internal memo that it will work with its employees, clients and partners to assess all options. This includes the transfer of ownership and divestment. WPP also plans to offer extra and enhanced financial support to individuals who lose their employment as a result of this, WSJ said. Meanwhile, WPP has 200 employees in Ukraine.
At the same time, WPP has also partnered with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to run an emergency fundraising appeal to help people forced to flee their homes in search of safety in other parts of Ukraine or neighbouring countries. It is also match-funding all donations by WPP employees.
This comes shortly after Accenture said it would be discontinuing its business in Russia. The consultancy currently has 2,300 employees in the country. At the same time, IPG said last Friday that its business in Russia is "abiding with all sanctions imposed by the US and the broader international community". The company currently has about 200 employees in Russia and it is evaluating "the most appropriate course of action" that not only takes into account its employees' welfare but is also responsive to the gravity of the situation. Dentsu International is also "closely reviewing" the situation in Russia to better guide its clients and make informed decisions for its business, WSJ added.
WPP joins a running list of companies that have taken a stand against Russia's recent invasion of Ukraine, including Nike, IKEA, Apple, Alphabet, Meta, Microsoft, Twitter, and Snap. More recently, PwC and KPMG exited Russia while Hermes and Chanel also closed their stores in the country.
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