IPA diversity survey reveals agencies must take further action to achieve gender equality

The IPA has released the first part of its annual diversity survey which looks at the gender balance, salary differentials and flexible working options of agencies. The Survey reveals deeper levels of agency engagement regarding diversity monitoring, but also that agencies must take more steps if the industry is to achieve gender parity at the C-suite level.

This is the second time the IPA, in association with Campaign magazine, has run the survey. This year it has been broadened out to the wider IPA agency membership, with responses received from 131 agencies. This compares to last year where responses were only sought from the biggest 39 agencies with a gross income of £20m or more than 200 employees.

In light of the wider sample size, direct comparisons on year-on-year figures are not possible. There are, however, some key trends to emerge from 2016 data:

Survey highlights:

  • The long-term data reveals a positive strong upward trend regarding the proportion of females in C-suite positions (Chair, CEO, MD: 27.1% and Other Executive Management: 31.5%), from 23.3% in 2006 (taken from the IPA Agency Census) to 30.2% in 2016. In 2016 this breaks down to 31% of women in senior positions in creative agencies and 29% in media agencies.
  • According to the 2016 data, at all levels under the C-Suite, a gender balance, defined as over 40%, exists, including Head of Department (41.8% women), Other Senior Staff (49.0%), Middle Managers (51.2%), Junior/Executives/Assistants (56%).
  • 2016 data reveals very marginal salary differentials between men and women, in terms of average percentage of staff compared to average percentage of salaries, at every level except Other Executive Management, but this never measures more than a 1.6% difference. At Chair/CEO/MD level this differential is 0.9%; Head of Department 1.6%; Other Senior Staff 1.1%; Middle managers 1.3% and Juniors/Executives/Assistants 0.5%.
  • In terms of flexible working, 97% of creative agencies and 97% of media agencies offer at least 1 of 11 flexible working options listed in the survey (Examples include part-time working: 91.0% and 96.8% respectively; to homeworking: 67.4% and 90.3% respectively to term-time working 7.9% and 16.1% respectively.)
  • There was a 100% Survey response rate from the IPA’s biggest agencies (with a gross income of £20m or more than 200 employees) vs 88% in 2015. This reveals a deeper engagement from agencies in terms of their gender diversity monitoring and provides a more representative and robust picture of the agency landscape.

In addition to surveying its members, the IPA is continuing its drive to encourage agencies to ‘Make the Leap’, for which companies are asked to visit www.wewillmaketheleap.com to submit their pledge to aim for the following industry targets:

  • 40 % female representation in senior positions by 2020
  • 15 % BAME representation in senior positions by 2020
  • help eliminate unconscious bias through training
  • raise awareness of our flexible, or agile, working policies

Says Tom Knox: “The purpose of the survey and the public announcement of IPA targets for diversity is to provoke debate and to get the subject firmly onto the agenda of all agencies.2016 will be remembered as a year when the issue of diversity rose to the top of the agenda, but if we are to achieve our targets of gender parity, now is the time to put these thoughts into action. I would therefore urge all agencies to check out the IPA’s diversity hub for simple, immediate ways to take those all important first steps to improving industry diversity.”

For further information, visit: www.ipa.co.uk/diversity; www.wewillmaketheleap.com; or contact the IPA’s Head of Diversity Leila Siddiqi: leila@ipa.co.uk

The final version of the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 has been published, together with an explanatory memorandum. They will come into force on 5th April 2017, subject to parliamentary approval. Read the IPA’s Employment Law Alert to find out what this means for your agency. 


Last updated 21 January 2022