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Diversity in ad agencies is creeping up, albeit very slowly, says IPA survey


Spark: CHI&Partners recruitment scheme

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising has surveyed ad agencies across the UK for its annual diversity report, and found that though improvements are “mild”, they have been made. The survey details the gender and salary split of employees at agencies by seniority, and shows the percentage of BAME employees in those agencies.

The survey reports a “marginal” increase in the amount of women in “C-suite roles” – a chair, CEO, MD or other executive management level position. On paper the improvement seems insignificant, increasing from 30.3% in 2016 to 30.9% in 2017, but is part of a steady rise from 23.3% in 2006. According to IPA, 30.4% of executive roles in creative agencies are occupied by women, and in media agencies it is slightly higher at 31.8%.

This year 12.9% of individuals in ad agencies are reportedly from a BAME background. This has gone up from 12% last year, and doubled since 2007. Though the representation of BAME individuals is highest at junior level (16.4%), IPA president Sarah Golding says there are “a myriad of diversity initiatives, actions and behaviours” aiming to make sure these people stay and move up in the industry. She lists Grey’s industry-wide Diversity Taskforce, Engine’s Better With Balance initiative, and CHI&Partners’ (at which she is president) Spark scheme.

“At the junior end of the business the numbers of women and those from BAME backgrounds are significantly higher, ensuring the funnel leading to the senior level is in good shape. However, it is imperative that we ensure this talent stays in the industry and climbs up to the top spots,” she says.