Gender Pay The Future of Work Agencies

IPA Census: the number of women running ad agencies increases 12%


By Sam Bradley, Journalist

February 28, 2023 | 4 min read

This year’s results provide a snapshot of gender and ethnic representation in the industry – and on the gender and ethnicity pay gaps.

A women in a blazer using a laptop

The latest IPA Census estimates 12% more women occupy leadership roles in advertising / Unsplash

The latest Census report from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) has found that the number of non-white staff in the C-suite increased 58%, while women in leadership positions at ad agencies increased 12% over the last year.

The IPA surveyed 201 British marketing and advertising agencies between September 2022 and January this year to gain a picture of the UK advertising industry’s makeup.

According to the study, the number of female employees increased by 24.1%, from an estimated 11,612 in 2021 to 14,411 in 2022. The number of men employed in agencies also increased, up 13.2% from an estimated 10,403 in 2021 to 11,777 in 2022. This means women now account for 54.8% of the total employee base and men account for 44.8%.

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Based on the survey’s findings, the IPA also estimates that individuals from a non-white background account for 23.6% of the total employee base, a 29% rise on 2021, and for 11.2% of leadership positions, a 58% rise on 2021. (The IPA’s target is for 15% of leadership positions to be filled by individuals from a non-white background.)

Leila Siddiqi, the associate director of diversity at the IPA, said this year’s Census findings “paint a hopeful, much-improved snapshot of the industry”.

“The pandemic and BLM have proved to 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 that enable all underrepresented groups to thrive and reach their full potential.”

Paul Bainsfair, director general of the IPA, said the numbers suggested agencies were making significant progress with diversity and inclusion initiatives. “These latest results represent a much healthier pace of improvement than in previous years and demonstrate that our concerted collective efforts to improve diversity and inclusivity within our industry are beginning to pay off,” he said.

“We must continue this great work to ensure our business is fully representative and inclusive for those working within it and attractive to those considering a career within the agency world.”

In addition to the number of women and non-white individuals taking up more leadership positions, the Census found that the gender pay gap among its sample has decreased. The IPA estimates an average gender pay gap of 17.4% in favor of men in 2023 – a 5.9% drop on 2021 figures.

However, pay gaps in favor of white staff still remain. The IPA estimates the ethnicity pay gap in advertising at 21.1% – a figure that has only dropped 0.1% since 2021, though the gap was estimated to be larger at media agencies (23.4%) than at other types of business (16.1%).

The Census also provides a snapshot of the state of hybrid working with 96% of agencies in the survey reporting that they still use a flexible approach to the office, while only 38.6% mandated that staff were in two or three days a week and just 4% had returned to the office full-time.

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