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Publicis releases UK gender pay gap figures for the last 3 years

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By Sam Bradley | Senior Reporter

October 5, 2021 | 5 min read

Publicis Groupe’s biggest UK agencies have cut their gender pay gap by 2.5% since 2019, according to new figures released today by the French holding company.

The group published its gender pay gap figures for 2021, 2020 and 2019 ahead of the UK government’s April 2022 deadline for Starcom, Digitas, Publicis Health, Zenith and Saatchi & Saatchi. Publicis’s 17 other UK agencies, such as MSL, Leo Burnett, Taylor Herring and Epsilon, were not included in the figures, since they each have less than 250 employees.

What do the figures show?

Across the five agencies, the median pay gap closed, on average, 2.5% since 2019. While Starcom, Saatchi & Saatchi and Zenith shrunk their pay gaps over the three-year period, both Publicis Health and Digitas actually increased their median pay gaps, by 1.1% and 4.4% respectively, in the same period.

publicis graphic asset

Publicis has released new gender pay gap figures for its UK agencies

Publicis Health’s mean gender pay gap (the median is considered the more representative measure) also grew from 18.6% in 2019 to 23.1% in 2020 and 25.1% in 2021. Digitas chief executive Dani Bassil has suggested that the agency’s 2020 figures, which grew to 30% before declining the following year, were in part due to the high number of senior female staff taking maternity leave in 2020.

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Company Pay gap % (2021) Pay gap % (2020) Pay gap % (2019)
Digitas 28.2 30 27.3
Publicis Health 26.2 24.1 22.6
Saatchi & Saatchi 16.7 16.9 20.3
Starcom 6.2 4.9 10.6
Zenith 7.1 14.1 16.1

What is Publicis doing to shrink the gap?

Though Annette King, chief executive officer of Publicis Groupe UK, highlighted the number of female agency leaders at the holding company, she conceded it still had work to do. She said: “Our UK leadership team consists of six female and six male leaders, and nine out of our 22 agency chief executive officers are female. Despite this, we still have more males occupying some of the most senior roles in our agencies, which contributes to those agencies’ gender pay gap figures.

”I firmly believe that as we emerge from the pandemic, we have a responsibility to build back better. We’ve made great strides forward in the past year in tackling inequalities that exist in our business, as they do across society. We have a long way to go but I’m confident we are on the right track. I’m pleased to see Zenith, Saatchi & Saatchi and Digitas have narrowed their median gender pay gaps in 2021.”

Paula Cunnington, chief talent officer at Publicis Groupe UK, pointed to progress made at Starcom, and the introduction of new menopause and family policies this year. She said: “We’re pleased to see three out of the five of our businesses report that their gender pay gaps have moved in the right direction. I want to acknowledge the work of Nadine Young and her team at Starcom, which now has a median gender pay gap of 6.2%, which is good to see.

”Earlier this year we introduced a menopause policy and a much-improved set of family-friendly policies covering maternity, paternity, shared parental leave, adoption, surrogacy, pregnancy loss and fertility. We believe these will have a significant impact in tackling some of the causes of the gender pay gap over the coming years.”

The figures suggest Publicis agencies are slightly ahead of the industry on closing the gender pay gap. Among the agencies that reported data for 2020-2021 in April of this year, the average median gender pay gap was 17.85%; representing an increase of 0.56% compared to 2020. In contrast, the average median gender pay gap for the five Publicis agencies in 2020-21 was 16.88%, a decrease of 1.12% on the previous year.

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