Talent and Diversity

Attracting new and diverse talent to the advertising and marketing communications industry.

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The IPA is committed to nurturing existing talent, monitoring diversity within the industry and championing inclusivity in the workplace. We ensure there is a pool of new and ambitious talent waiting to join the industry.

Julian Douglas, Vice Chairman VCCP and Chair of IPA’s Talent Leadership Group continues his agenda to attract new and diverse talent to the industry. Working collaboratively with key partners, the group delivers a programme of inspirational events and initiatives as listed below.

Helping you to find and retain diverse talent

    Attracting and hiring diverse candidates

    Apprenticeships (Creative Pioneers)

    The Creative Pioneers apprenticeship programme, which was launched by the IPA in 2012 is an award winning nationwide apprenticeship programme to find the next generation of advertising, creative and digital media talent from a diverse pool of candidates.

    It is run in media partnership with Metro newspaper and the training is provided by Arch Apprentices.

    Creative Pioneers has now placed over 750 young people in the industry. Of the 2019 cohort, more than 39% were individuals from a Black, Asian or ethnic minority background and the gender split was almost 50/50. Their graduation ceremony was held on 2 March 2020 and several of them featured in a wraparound in our Metro on 3 February 2020 to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week.

    In 2019 Creative Pioneers launched its training programme in support of the bespoke Advertising and Media Executive Apprenticeship Standard, to which over 90 apprentices have signed up so far. A second standard – the Junior Advertising Creative Apprenticeship – launched earlier this year, and an Employers’ Trailblazer has been formed to drive this forward.

    Advertising Unlocked

    Each year in September we run Advertising Unlocked when over 100 advertising and marketing communications agencies and over 100 schools are being brought together for the industry’s largest open day. Upon being matched with a local school by the IPA, agencies are able to give young people from a diverse range of backgrounds access to what goes into making an advertising campaign successful, the different roles available to them and open the doors to advertising as a possible career path for them.


    The IPA is offering its members the opportunity to advertise their entry level roles to over 70,000 students and recent graduates, through the pioneering career app Debut

    Agency signing up to the IPA’s Debut offering will have access to more than 70,000 entry-level candidates of whom:

    • 43% study STEM subjects
    • 35% are individuals from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds
    • 70% use the app more than twice a week.

    Nurturing and celebrating talent

    The iList

    The IPA, in partnership with Unilever and Campaign, launched the iList initiative in November 2019 with the aim of showcasing and celebrating role models who are truly promoting and championing inclusivity within the advertising industry - no matter what level a person works at.

    The members of the inaugural iList announced on 26 May 2020 will share their remarkable work with the whole industry, providing inspiration and practical steps to help shift the culture within and increase better representation in our creative work.

    Read through the Campaign digital supplement to find out more about the outstanding individuals who are responsible for some of the most influential and wide-ranging diversity and inclusion initiatives in adland.

    Click anywhere on a page to zoom.

    Stepping into the Spotlight

    We recognise that in order to have better representation on screen we need more women in leadership positions in the business; so in 2017 we launched an inspiration programme for women in mid to senior level roles who are on the cusp of leadership called 'Stepping into the Spotlight'. These sessions run twice a year and we have worked with Channel 4, Lloyds, Stylist and Burberry.

    IPA Industry Census

    In order to analyse and grow the diversity of the agency business to ensure its subsequent success, the IPA carries out an annual agency census.

    Since 1960 the IPA has charted overall employee numbers, working practices, staff turnover, as well as looking at the breakdown by gender, ethnic diversity, age, seniority and department, within creative, other non-media agencies and media agencies. Recently it has also reported on salary gaps by gender. These figures provide a vital benchmark for the diversity of the industry.

    The IPA 2015-2017 President, Tom Knox established a set of diversity targets for our industry to work towards:

    • Women to hold 40% of senior positions.
    • At least 15% of people in leadership positions will be from non-white backgrounds.
    • At least 25% of entry level recruits should be Black, Asian and ethnic minority individuals.

    The targets were aspirational and ambitious and they have given focus for a serious commitment and desire to make change happen from agencies up and down the country. We already have a number of agencies who have, and are close to achieving on or more of these targets.

    The participation in the IPA Agency Census will become a mandatory component of CPD Accreditation from 2021 for all our member agencies – and we are working on supporting them through 2020 to make sure they are comfortable collecting this data and understand why it’s important to have a baseline.

    Black Lives Matter (BLM) for marketers 

    Useful inclusion strategies for racial diversity in the form of guidance, resources, FAQs and our top five starters, designed to inspire our agencies and allow for action oriented goals as we navigate our way through an increasingly complex and nuanced topic area.

    Developing existing talent

    • We continue to run a comprehensive training programme of over 60 courses and 7 qualifications covering: People & Leadership, Brands & Strategy, Creativity and Commercial skills.
    • IPA qualifications are now accessible in 87 countries.
    • Our basic level qualification, the Foundation Certificate is ingrained as a ‘must take’ for industry newcomers and is our most popular exam which we invigilate nationwide for around 1,000 people every year.
    • The number of accredited MIPAs is almost at four hundred, with one thousand people on the cusp of being accredited. The MIPA programme now includes a suite of ten courses and seven MIPA accredited qualifications, which are made up of a blend of pre-work, face to face learning and a marked assessment.
    • Our learning on understanding and building brands is delivered through a year-long programme called the IPA Excellence Diploma. This annual and intensive look into brands for the brightest minds in the business is now delivered through online and offline events, bespoke presentation days and imaginative coursework. There is a focus on fast strategies and presentations with delegates being exposed to new ways of thinking by challenging industry leaders.
    • On effectiveness, we have updated and expanded our training, developing a new course: Effectiveness Essentials which will offer a solid grounding in measuring advertising effectiveness.
    • Digital Performance Certificate covers key disciplines in digital marketing including SEO and Paid Search and helps delegates develop the skills to plan and implement successful digital marketing campaigns.
    • Members are able to showcase their professional development programmes through the IPA CPD Gold Awards.


    We are currently working with the following partners by sharing best practice, thought leadership and through event participation, consultancy work and judging awards:

    • Creative Equals to promote their Equality Standard to our membership.
    • Women of the Future Network to champion successful Black, Asian and ethnic minority women across all sectors.
    • Unstereotype Alliance run by UN Women and Unilever, a global movement aimed at eradicating harmful gender stereotypes in the ads.
    • Mayor of London on their competition for progressive portrayal of Black, Asian and ethnic minority individuals in ads and Channel 4 on their Annual Diversity Award.
    • Creative Industries Council (CIC) Diversity Group working on its first report which will outline how members of the CIC have made progress within D&I in their sectors. 
    • #TimeTo run by Nabs, AA and WACL to end harassment in adland.
    • Channel 4’s Annual Diversity Award to encourage agencies and brands to create and enter non stereotypical content. This year the theme is LGBTQ.

    Featured events, publications and videos

    Please find a list of IPA events, publications and videos that educate about and address issues relating to inclusion and diversity in the advertising industry.

    Free job postings

    Member agencies can advertise vacancies free of charge on Jobs Online


    Leila Siddiqi

    Associate Director, Diversity

    Office Number

    0207 201 8265

    Last updated 05 November 2020

    Portraying diversity and inclusion for a modern day audience, that is both welcoming non-stereotypical communications and actively demanding a more accurate reflection of British society is one of our industry’s greatest opportunities.