IPA publishes 2019 IPA Agency Census

Where we stand and where we need to make improvements.

The IPA has published its annual Agency Census detailing a breakdown of the make-up of agencies within IPA membership in 2019.

Overall numbers reveal that, at the time of data collection, the employed base in IPA member agencies in 2019 was 24,866, compared with the 25,142 recorded in 2018. While the number of employees in media agencies continued to grow, increasing by nearly 400 year-on-year to 11,357, the number of employees at creative and non-media agencies fell by over 600 to 13,509. The decline in overall staff numbers appears to have been mostly caused by a decrease in the use of employees on a fixed-term contract, from 2,127 in 2018 to 969 in 2019.

Further key 2019 Census findings:

Number of females in C-suite positions increased year-on-year

Females accounted for 52.6% of total employees, up slightly from 52.2% year-on-year. When looking at the gender balance by seniority, females occupied 59.5% of junior roles, up from 58% in 2018, and 34% of C-suite roles, up from 32.7% in 2018, and up significantly from 19% in 2002. The percentage of females in a C-suite role in 2019 was highest at 39.9% in media agencies with more than 200 employees and at 36.2% in creative and other non-media agencies with fewer than 200 employees.

There was a strong female bias in HR, finance, account management and new business roles, while there was a strong male bias in creative and digital roles.

Females accounted for 85% of the total part-time employed base. This was down from 86.8% in 2018.

A gender pay gap exists

There was an overall average salary gap in favour of males of 24.4%, compared to 24.2% in 2018. This stood at 28.1% in creative and other non-media agencies and 19.8% in media agencies, both in favour of males. The salary gap was highest at other executive management level where it stood at 18.9%, and was lowest at the junior/executive/assistant level at 0.9%.

Ethnic diversity fell fractionally year-on-year

The number of employees from an ethnic minority background sat at 13.7%, down slightly from 13.8% in 2018. Ethnic diversity in IPA member agencies was highest at junior levels at 17.7%, up from 16.9% in 2018, while 4.7% of C-suite roles were occupied by individuals from an ethnic minority background, down from 5.5% in 2018.

At the highest level of seniority (chair/CEO/MD) ethnic minority representation has doubled from 2% in 2017 to 4.1% in 2019.

Adland continues to be dominated by those at the younger end of the age spectrum

44.8% of the employed base at IPA member agencies was aged 30 or under, down from 45.6% in 2018, while 6.3% were aged 50 or over, compared with 6.2% in 2018.

IPA reaction:

Commenting on the Census findings, IPA Director General, Paul Bainsfair said:

"Once again these figures show that while some improvements were noted in some areas in terms of the diversity of our industry, these are marginal at best and too slow in pace. Having said this, we do know that there is an inevitable lag between action and results. While there are mild fluctuations year-on-year, looking at the bigger picture over the longer term, the overall trajectory of the major trend data charted within the Census is positive.

The purpose of the Census is to provide a lay of the land and to hold a mirror up to our agency community to showcase where we stand and where we need to make improvements. This information will help our members to address diversity issues. As the agency community’s professional body, it is our duty to help ensure the longevity and success of our agency members, for which we know a diverse make-up of staff and a diversity of capability is essential.

Paul Bainsfair, IPA Director General

"In addition to tracking these numbers, we provide a wealth of diversity and inclusivity support and activity for our agencies to draw on and promote and advocate the best possible equality standards, encouraging our members to embrace those.

"We also applaud agency members that are doing the best on this front and help publicise the good news stories there to encourage others. A case of positive reinforcement with rewarding recognition. On which note, we shall see many more examples of outstanding inclusivity when we publish our inaugural iList in mid-May.

"To exact real change, it is incumbent upon agencies to take control. Now more than ever."

The importance of inclusivity in these tough times

Commenting on the effect of COVID-19 on the make-up of the industry, the full extent of which will be evident in the 2020 Census publication next year, the IPA’s Associate Director, Diversity Leila Siddiqi stresses the importance of inclusivity in these tough times:

"On a societal level, the pandemic is deepening pre-existing inequalities, for example, those with lower incomes are getting poorer, mental health issues are on the rise and according to recent United Nations policy brief about the impact of COVID19, women’s lives will be affected disproportionately and differently from men particularly in the areas of economic impact, health, unpaid care work and gender-based violence. One of the most defining characteristics of a business is its culture, which is even less tangible in the current world of working remotely in a state of international emergency. 

We urge our members to preserve their core values, stay true to their culture and be mindful of changing dynamics and working inclusively in a fair and empathetic manner while we learn to navigate an online work environment.

Leila Siddiqi, IPA Associate Director, Diversity

The IPA has a full diversity and inclusivity programme that encompasses:

Engaging leadership & highlighting the importance of all components of diversity and inclusivity

  • The IPA, in partnership with Unilever and Campaign, launched the iList, a free initiative to showcase and celebrate role models who are driving inclusivity in adland. The initiative will galvanise the industry into becoming a more inclusive, diverse place to work and celebrate the role models who are driving this change.
  • The IPA is currently exploring partnerships with the Advertising Association and ISBA to enhance its work around diversity and inclusion and engage leaders more broadly.
  • With Creative Equals on their BAME mentoring programme, Accelerate and on various other initiatives including promoting their Equality Standard

Supporting and nurturing female talent

  • Stepping into the Spotlight - Aimed to empower and offer success strategies for mid to senior level women at work, the IPA’s Stepping into the Spotlight series has been addressing challenges regularly faced in the workplace and offering practical advice on how to make an impact through quarterly events since 2017. Our upcoming series will focus on how to support and inspire women during the pandemic.
  • International Women’s Day annual celebration to celebrate and inspire upcoming female talent
  • The IPA sits on the #TimeTo committee run by Nabs, AA and WACL to end harassment in adland.
  • Supporter of Women of the Future Network to champion successful BAME women across all sectors.
  • Judge and supporter of Campaign’s Female Frontier Awards

Entry-level talent

  • Creative Pioneers apprenticeship programme – Growing from strength to strength with over 750 people having gone through the programme since we launched in 2012. 
  • Advertising Unlocked - Now in its fourth year, the initiative continues in its duel objective to introduce a new - potentially unconsidered - career option to schoolchildren, and to provide agencies with a route to fresh, diverse talent.
  • Debut - 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.

Reports and publications

  • Every 10 years, the IPA creates a major report on a talent related topic area with the next report ‘Future of Fairness’ being due in summer 2020 and focusing on diversity and inclusion in adland.
  • IPA is an active member of the Creative Industries Council (CIC) Diversity Group which is working on its first report which will outline how members of the CIC have made progress within D&I in their sectors.
  • Championing unstereotyped creative content
  • Founding member of Unstereotype Alliance run by UN Women and Unilever, a global movement aimed at eradicating harmful gender stereotypes in the ads.
  • Working with Mayor of London on their competition for progressive BAME portrayal in ads and Channel 4 on their Annual Diversity Award to encourage agencies and brands to create and enter non stereotypical content

Coming up:

  • Stepping into the Spotlight takes place on 12 May online, featuring Funny Women and performance coaches Sarah Kelleher and Tina Dullaghan
  • The launch of the inaugural iList on 25th May which will be followed by a series of round table discussions and webinars over the summer. We will also be sharing specific examples from individuals on our iList, especially those who are positively reinforcing the inclusion agenda in a way that is relevant during the crisis.
  • IPA in partnership with Creative Equals will be hosting a summer series of webinars around the importance of inclusion in a crisis
  • Later this summer we will be launching our new ‘Future of Fairness’ publication.

All of this work falls under the IPA Talent Leadership Group chaired by Julian Douglas, VCCP, with Leila Siddiqi leading on behalf of the IPA. Its mission is to drive the diversity and inclusion agenda for the industry, working collaboratively with key partners.

Currently the IPA Talent Leadership Group has six working strands:

  • IPA Census & Targets
  • Initiatives to support women
  • Entry-level programmes
  • The iList
  • The Diversity Report 2020
  • Partnerships

The full IPA Agency Census 2019 with details on the profile of the employed base by department type, gender, age and ethnicity as well as working practices and staff turnover is now available.

Download the full IPA Agency Census 2019 for full details
Last updated 01 May 2024