Industry trade group the IPA has today published its 2022 Agency Census, charting the makeup of the UK’s ad industry, finding that diversity at the C-suite level improved significantly among its members over the course of last year. There is however still plenty of work to be done, with women and employees from non-white backgrounds still significantly underrepresented at senior levels, and gender and ethnicity pay gaps persisting.
Women now occupy 37.5 percent of C-suite roles at IPA member agencies according to the census, up from 33.5 percent. Most progress over the course of the year was made by media agencies: women held 32.8 percent of media agency C-suite jobs in 2021, which increased to 39 percent in 2022. This is one of the faster rises in recent years.
But there is still a wide disparity between the C-suite and the workforce as a whole. Women made up 54.8 percent of the total agency employment base measured by the census in 2021 – leaving a 21.3 percentage point gap between female representation in the C-suite and in the wider industry.
Meanwhile, individuals from a non-white background (the term used in the IPA’s census) occupied 11.2 percent of C-suite roles among IPA members (compared with around 19 percent of the UK population, and 46.2 percent of London’s population specifically).
Again, there is a big disparity between representation in senior positions and representation across the wider industry. Individuals from non-white backgrounds make up an estimated 23.6 percent of all employees, but many work in junior positions (making up 33.3 percent of the workforce in entry and junior-level roles).
The census also highlighted continued pay gaps across the industry. The census found a gender pay gap of 17.4 percent in favour of men, down from 23.3 percent in 2021, and an ethnicity pay gap of 21.1 percent in favour of white employees, a barely perceptible fall from 21.2 percent in 2021.
Significantly, for both gender and ethnicity, the census found pay gaps within levels of seniority. So these pay gaps aren’t solely a by-product of men and white individuals being over-represented in more senior roles. Looking specifically at the C-suite level for example, the census found a 12.2 percent gender pay gap in favour of men, and a 15.4 percent ethnicity pay gap in favour of white individuals.
This highlights two challenges for the UK agencies. While they’re successfully bringing women and individuals from non-white backgrounds into the industry, it will be important to make sure this talent is retained and promoted up to senior positions, to close representation gaps at the top of the industry. And there’s still work to do to ensure that this talent is paid equally at every level of seniority.
Leila Siddiqi, associate director of diversity at the IPA, said that the census data shows a “much improved snapshot” of the industry, suggesting that “the pandemic and BLM have proved the be real catalysts, and provided priceless stimulus and purpose to people who were already frustrated at the slow rate of positive change in our industry”.
“Now is the time to double down on our collective efforts by paying extra attention to the areas of fair pay, equal opportunity and creating inclusive, flexible workplace cultures which enable all underrepresented groups to thrive and reach their full potential,” she added.