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Gender pay gap widens at more than half of UK ad agencies

The UK's gender pay gap got wider at many UK agencies this year

The median gender pay gap has worsened at more than half of the UK's advertising and marketing agencies in the last year, analysis by The Drum has revealed.

The extent of inequality between men and women's pay across the UK economy has been laid bare for the second year running, as businesses published figures detailing the gender pay gap for 2018. Despite some progress, the advertising industry has not fared well.

All UK firms with more than 250 employees were legally required to report their gender pay figures by midnight 4 April. Companies that missed the deadline —such as What Car?, Autocar and Campaign publisher Haymarket, OMD EMEA and Maxus Communications — may face legal action. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has said it plans to bring enforcement proceedings against all companies that missed the deadline.

The Drum has investigated the mass of data released by over 10,000 companies across the UK and pulled out the figures most relevant for the marketing and media industries.

Below, you'll find the ad shops and media companies with the largest median pay gaps in favour of men. When it comes to UK ad agencies, 28 actually saw their gaps increase over the past 12 months, while 16 got closer to achieving gender pay parity. In between, only one agency gap stayed stagnant, and five had no 2017 data for compassion.

The national median pay gap saw little change, closing from 18.4% in 2017-18, to 17.1% in 2018-19. However, the gap at all UK advertising and marketing agencies got worse, widening 1.1%.

Agencies

The gender pay gap at several of the largest networks got wider in the last year.

At WPP, the median pay gap increased by 0.3%, while Dentsu's gender pay gap increased by 3.5%.

As with last year's figures, WPP agencies reported some of the highest gender pay gaps in favour of men - with J Walter Thomspon reporting a 38.3% gap, AMV BBDO reporting 31.8% and Grey reporting 31%. The gender pay gap at JWT closed 6.4% in the last 12 months, while AMV's also narrowed by 5.7%.

WPP chief executive Mark Read admitted that the holding giant had "to do better" and said it was "committed to promoting more women within the organisation". He also noted that the UK government's demand for transparency was forcing businesses like his own to take action.

"It's probably helpful that these things are made public as it forces us to address the issue and look at it more than we would have done," he revealed last month.

Despite Read's praise of the strategy, a report issued from consultancy Paygaps.com found that some firms aren't being as open.

It said that 33% of organisations are failing to provide links to their gender pay gap reports, as stipulated by the government guidelines. According to Innes Miller, chief commercial officer at Paygaps.com, organisations that fail to include a link are sending out the message that the reporting itself it "simply a compliance excercise".

"It reflects poorly among current employees, prospective employees, customers and investors who are looking for a commitment and a clear understanding of how the organisation plans to achieve greater equality," he added.

Karen Blackett, UK country manager for WPP, said: "We need to increase the pace of change to improve gender balance at the very highest leadership levels by focusing on programmes that create a stronger female talent pipeline."

Rival network Publicis Groupe reported mixed progress in its efforts to pay female staff fairly.

Annette King, chief executive at Publicis Groupe UK, said: "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."

Agency Pay gap % (2018-19) Pay gap % (2017-18) Pay gap difference
J Walter Thomson 38.3 44.7 -6.4
WPP 2005 34 32.8 1.2
MPC 33.3 28.3 5
AMV BBDO 31.8 37.5 -5.7
The Mill 31 27.2 3.8
Grey 31 24.6 6.4
Salmon 29.6 23.8 5.8
DigitasLBI 29.2 26.2 3
Spark44 28.9 12 16.9
Rapp 28.2 23.1 5.1
DDB UK 27 34.2 -7.2
Iris Nation 25 22 3
Sapient 24.6 23.2 1.4
BBH Partners 24 26 -2
Framestore 24 16.4 7.6
Publicis Healthcare Communications 23.2 - -
McCann-Erickson Advertising 23.1 16 7.1
McCann-Erickson Central 22.7 21.6 1.1
VCCP Group 22.4 20 2.4
AKQA 21.6 30.5 -8.9
Ogilvy & Mather 21.3 24 -2.7
Havas Media 20.7 26 -5.3
Publicis Ltd 20.5 - -
Hogarth Worldwide 20 22 -2
Mediabrands Ltd 19.8 - -
Kantar UK 18.7 16.9 1.8
Starcom Worldwide 18.7 12.6 6.1
Dentsu Aegis London 18.3 14.5 3.8
Mindshare Media UK 17.7 22.2 -4.5
Essence Global 16.7 - -
McCann Manchester 16.6 15.9 0.7
WPP Brands (UK)* 16.3 14.6 1.7
McCann Health Medicine 15.5 19.2 -3.7
Zenith UK 15.1 13.3 1.8
Mediacom North 14.9 15.7 -0.8
Tag Europe 13.8 18.6 -4.8
Wavemaker 12.4 - -
PHD Media 11.3 2.5 8.8
Creative Lynx 9 9 0
BD Network 8.7 15.2 -6.5
Saatchi & Saatchi Group 7.7 6.7 1
OMD Group 7.2 4.4 2.8
Mediacom Holdings 6.5 11.1 -4.6
Dentsu Aegis Manchester 5.5 1.8 3.7
Creo Retail Marketing 4.7 -5.7 10.4
CGF Marketing Services 3.8 0.4 3.4
Oliver Marketing 0.3 12.5 -12.2
Kantar Media UK -0.4 -12.7 12.3
Hill & Knowlton -2.4 -3.9 1.5
Golin/Harris -7.7 -4.6 1.5
Average 18 16.9 1.1

*WPP Brands (UK) is the name of Y&R.

Media

The gender pay gap at media companies across the UK got better on the whole, closing -2% on average, and getting smaller at the majority of the companies featured in The Drum's sample.

The companies with the widest gaps between men and women's pay were specialist publishers Wilmington, The Economist, and Channel Four television. The gap at Channel 5, previously just 2.1%, widened by 10.6% in the last year, while NBC Universal saw the least improvement in the sample, with the median gap at the broadcaster widening 11.2%.

Newspaper publisher Newsquest - which operates titles such as The Herald - saw one of the biggest improvements of any company in the country, going from a 7% median pay gap last year to a -82% gap in favour of female employees.

Company Pay gap % (2018-19) Pay gap % (2017-18) Pay gap difference
Wilmington Plc 34.8 36.6 -1.8
Economist Newspaper Ltd 29.2 29.5 -0.3
Channel Four Television 23.3 24.2 -0.9
Telegraph Media Group 22.7 23.4 -0.7
MGN 22.5 20.7 1.8
Conde Nast Publications 21.9 23.3 -1.4
CNN 21.7 23.5 -1.8
Bloomberg 20.9 21.9 -1
ITV Services 20.5 21.9 -1.4
Red Bee Media 20.4 23.4 -3
Google UK 20 16 4
Global Radio Services 19.4 20.5 -1.1
STV Television 18.5 17.3 1.2
Financial Times Ltd 18.4 19.4 -1
ITN 18.1 18.2 -0.1
News Group Newspapers 18 19.6 -1.6
NBC Universal 17.4 6.2 11.2
BBC Studios 17.2 16.9 0.3
News UK 16.6 22.4 -5.8
Associated Newspapers 16.1 15.4 0.7
UKTV 15.5 12.4 3.1
DC Thompson 15.4 15.7 -0.3
Bauer Consumer Media 15.1 17.2 -2.1
The Farm 15 20 -5
Walt Disney Company 14.9 15.8 -0.9
Express Newspapers 14.6 19 -4.4
Viacom International 13.9 13.7 0.2
Verizon UK 13 14.1 -1.1
Channel 5 Broadcasting 12.7 2.1 10.6
ITV Broadcasting 12.6 10.7 1.9
Facebook UK 11.9 10.3 1.6
TI Media 11 13.8 -2.8
ITV Studios 10.7 10.3 0.4
Exterion Media 10.5 10.3 0.2
Times Newspapers 10.3 12.7 -2.4
BBC Studios Productions 10 - -
Thomson Reuters 9.8 8.7 1.1
Midland News Association 9.7 3.1 6.6
Guardian News & Media 8.4 12.1 -3.7
Archant Community Media 7.9 6.4 1.5
IMG Media 7.8 7.8 0
Sky UK 7.8 8 0.2
BBC 7.6 9.3 -1.7
Deluxe Media Europe 6 0.2 5.8
FremantleMedia Group 5 - -
ITV Breakfast 4.9 5.6 -0.7
The Press Association 4.6 0.5 4.1
Discovery Corporate Services 4.6 3.3 1.3
Haymarket Media Group 3.8 4.3 -0.5
William Reed Business Media 1.1 18.5 -17.4
Dennis Publishing -3.4 -1.1 -2.3
Perform Media Services -19.5 -20.6 1.1
JCDecaux UK -32.2 -21.9 -10.3
Clear Channel UK -53.1 -57.9 4.8
Newsquest Media Group -82 7 -89
Average 9.6 11.6 -2

The tables above display the median percentage difference between men and women's pay.

Although companies also report the mean percentage difference, as well as the proportion of women in each pay quartile, the median is considered the most representative measure of the pay gap.

The Drum will be reporting on reactions across the industry to the new gender pay gap data as they come in.

Additional reporting by Rebecca Stewart.

Update: This article was updated at 13.30 on 5/4/2019 to add three agencies - The Mill, MPC and Framestore - to the sample above. The average industry median pay gap was updated accordingly.

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