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Empathy: At the Core of Corporate Culture

July 24, 2020



Empathy: At the Core of Corporate Culture

Empathy: At the Core of Corporate Culture

Mark Read, CEO of WPP, explains how strong cultural tenets help the organization connect with clients, support employees, and continue to innovate across the 100+ countries they operate in despite current circumstances. He emphasizes the importance of empathy for understanding evolving consumer behavior and workers’ different situations, as well as for responding to the protests sparked by racial injustice. Mark shares WPP’s commitments that ensure everyone feels comfortable to speak up and bring their whole self to work.


[00:45] What is the connection between empathy and corporate culture?

[01:03] Multinationals are dealing with multidimensional challenges.

[03:47] How WPP’s purpose has guided the company during the COVID19 pandemic.

[05:05] The effect of responding with an empathetic, common sense approach.

[06:16] How communication helps manage and support employees through uncertainty.

[07:10] The benefit of making clear decisions and not changing tack during a crisis.

[08:25] Encouraging people to connect regularly with co-workers.

[09:22] The influence of WPP’s cultural values: being open, optimistic, and extraordinary.

[10:21] WPP recently launched WPP TV as a way to bring employees around the world together.

[11:50] How COVID19 has accelerated the arrival of the Future of Work.

[12:29] Mark’s views about the use of technology to work effectively and its role in attracting the best

[16:02] The world’s biggest period of self-reflection.

[17:32] WPP’s guiding principles for bringing people back to the office in 100+ countries.

[18:45] Anticipating a seismic shift in people’s attitudes towards remote working.

[20:15] How will brands be rethinking how to connect and engage with their consumers long -term? Mark breaks it down in three phrases.

[21:35] What area of business or society has not been changed by the pandemic?

[23:03] Client’s’ interest to accelerate digital transformation has increased.

[23:47] WPP is thinking through the future of work, as well as rethinking the future of the high street.

[25:10] How have the protests against racial injustice around the world affected WPP?

[25:37] The changes WPP has committed to make.

[26:25] Why the perspective of anti-racism is important and working proactively to make a difference.

[27:31] Leaders’ roles in making lasting change with a focus on recruiting.

[29:03] Mark shares how WPP created a safe space and environment where people could speak up and share their experiences.

[30:27] How WPP’s culture helps cultivate a company where people are comfortable bringing their full selves to work.

[31:43] The essential role of empathy to support diversity and inclusion.

[32:12] Fighting racism becomes a task for everyone.

[33:03] How to sustain new approaches and initiatives long-term.

[34:14] Mark’s recommendations about how to stay connected, without having to travel!

[36:03] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: Say hello. Check in with people and see how they really are doing.


“Communicate as much as possible with people. You cannot overcommunicate with people.”

“Our clients have a much greater desire to accelerate digital transformation. Companies that can transact online have definitely come out in a much stronger position.”

“We’ve seen more innovation in the last three months than we’ve seen in the previous 10 years, and I think the world we come out to will be very, very different.”

“When we get back to normal, probably by the time we’re through this, we would have forgotten what normal is like.”

“We committed to use the power of our voice. This notion that silence is complicity I think it helps you to think through what you need to say.”

“If you don’t have empathy, you don’t try to understand where other people are coming from.”

“Fighting racism becomes a task for everyone.”

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