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Dentsu Aegis Network promises 'progress' as UK pay gap worsens

2018's report revealed that Dentsu's mean and median pay gaps had worsened / Dentsu Aegis

Dentsu Aegis Network has joined WPP in reporting a widening gender pay gap across the business for 2018.

The agency group – which owns Carat, Vizeum, Fetch and Mcgarrybowen – has seen its overall median pay gap (the difference between the midpoints in the ranges of men’s and women’s pay) rise to 17.6% over the past 12 months, against 2017's 14.1% gap.

The network's overall mean pay gap (the difference in the average hourly rate pay) increased to 30.5%, up from 26.1% in 2018. The median is typically a more representative figure since the mean can be skewed by a handful of highly paid employees.

Dentsu pointed out that although it has an equal number of men and women on its books, there was a gender imbalance across senior roles which was the "main driver" of its pay gap data.

It also attributed its failure to narrow the gap to the fact that fewer women occupy specialist digital positions.

On the whole, the company's median gap was slightly lower than the UK national average, which currently sits at 17.9%.

Dentsu Aegis Network split out the data across its London and Manchester divisions, its two legal entities in the UK. The numbers showed the median London pay gap to have increased to 18.3% in 2018, up from 14.5% in 2017. The Manchester median increase was higher: 5.5%, against 2017's 1.8%.

Agency Median pay gap % (2018) Median pay gap % (2017-18) Median pay gap difference
Dentsu Aegis London Ltd 18.3 14.5 +3.8
Dentsu Aegis Manchester Ltd 5.5 1.8 +3.7

"We will continue to review and monitor these trends closely and develop and embed new approaches to further strengthen ourselves as a progressive and fair employer, such as a commitment to better learning and development opportunities and access to flexible working," the company said in a joint statement from executive chairman Nick Waters and chief people officer Anne Sewell.

"We recognise that more progress is required," they added. "We will continue to ensure we live up to our ‘responsible’ value, treating all employees with fairness, respect and integrity."

At a global level, the group has made a commitment to achieve a target of 40% women in leadership roles by 2020. It also says it is investing in flexible working, unconscious bias training and developing women within the organisation to close its gap.

Since 2018, all UK companies with at least 250 employees need to report their gender pay gap by law.

A mixed bag for Publicis too

Holding company rival Publicis Groupe also revealed the pay gap figures for its individual UK agencies today.

The report revealed a mixed bag of results. BBH closed its median by 2% and Saatchi and Saatchi's widened by 1% to 7.7% in favour of mean. At 24%, however, BBH's median number is well above the national average.

Starcom's gap also widened from 12.6% in 2017 to 18.7% in 2018.

Digitas had the worst median pay gap among men and women standing at 29.2%, up from 20.5% the previous year.

Annette King, chief executive at Publicis Groupe UK, said: "I am proud that we have deployed a series of ambitious programmes across our UK agencies to help achieve a better balance of gender at senior levels. Although these are relatively new, we are already seeing progress in some areas.

"The simple truth is that we are on a journey, there will always be room for improvement and it’s essential we talk, review and redress how we are going to embrace a better and more transformative workplace."

Publicis has its own set of gender balancing initiatives inlucing an apprentiship scheme and Égalité, an employee network for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) professionals and allies. It also runs an internal scheme called VivaWomen which it claims ensures "the equal contribution and value of women in the Groupe".

The Drum will be covering gender pay gap reports from the advertising industry in full on Friday 5 April.

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