New IPA research pinpoints how to attract and retain diverse talent

IPA-commissioned survey carried out by youth recruitment platform Debut who surveyed a sample of 1,579 of their UK users.

New IPA research has revealed how UK students perceive the ad industry and what they are looking for in a future organisation, providing invaluable insights for agencies to attract and retain fresh talent.

The results highlight a significant lack of awareness and knowledge about ad agencies by this demographic, yet a keen interest to join the business. It also shows that real differences exist in the emphasis that men and women, and white and Black Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals, place on the qualities of their future managers and workplaces.

The findings are drawn from an IPA-commissioned survey, carried out by youth recruitment platform Debut who surveyed a sample of 1,579 of their UK users comprising current students or recent graduates (undergraduate and postgraduate).

Key research findings:

Young talent isn’t aware of specific agencies

While 87% of the sample were aware of ad agencies in general, and 77% had heard of media agencies, the research reveals that there is little to no knowledge about names of specific agencies. Over half (53%) couldn’t name a single agency name, with the joint highest awareness for Saatchi&Saatchi and WPP, at only 4%.

Knowledge gaps exist on how ad agencies work

There is a real knowledge gap when it comes to adland’s hours and pay. Almost half of respondents (49%) don’t know if it is long hours; 42% think it is and 8% think it’s short hours. Meanwhile 41% don’t know about adland salaries; 33% says it pays well; and 26% says it doesn’t.

Women and Black Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals show keener interest to join adland

Despite this lack of awareness of the agency business, almost three quarters of respondents say they definitely (29%) or might (45%) consider a career in advertising. Women are more likely than men to definitely want to join the industry (32% vs 24% respectively), as are Black Asian and Minority Ethnic respondents compared to white respondents (34% vs 27%).

Younger female generation seek emotional intelligence from their future managers

Looking at the ideal qualities in a line manager, both men and women rated ‘believes in you’ and ‘challenges you’ as the top two qualities. However, qualities that perhaps require a higher level of emotional intelligence are rated much more highly in terms of importance for women than men, such as being patient (66% vs 53%), realistic (63% vs 55%), and kind (64% vs 47% respectively).

Women and Black Asian Minority Ethnic individuals place greater value on inclusive workplaces

When thinking of their future ideal workplace, respondents care most about clear career progression (95% citing this as most or very important), great managers (94%) and good training (92%). There are also some slight differences when considering gender and ethnicity. Female and Black Asian and Minority Ethnic respondents are more likely to value an inclusive and diverse workplace (85% and 89% mark this as most or very important compared to 64% and 68% for male and white respondents respectively).

Says Michael Brown, Partner of Insight and Cross-Culture at UM, a member of the IPA’s Talent Leadership Group and a member of the IPA iList:

"We often talk about needing to recruit diverse talent, but we don’t know where to start. This research pinpoints the areas that we need to address. Ironically, it is clear we need to market ourselves better to this demographic.

We also need to question why, if more people from ethnic minority backgrounds want to join the industry, this doesn’t then translate into those numbers actually entering the business; what are the barriers here. We also need to ensure that our managers, directors and CEOs, are aware of the value that this younger, female generation places on emotional intelligence.

"We must apply this to our management style if we are to ensure a fulfilled, workforce that stays in the business. There is a lot to take from this data. I urge adland to take note for a brighter, more inclusive future for us all."

The research was unveiled and discussed at an IPA webinar Opening Doors. The event heard from Harjot Singh, CSO for EMEA of McCann Worldgroup; Ally Owen, Founder, Brixton Finishing School and Marco Bertozzi, Creator of the inclusive recruitment podcast ‘Do As I Do, Not As They Say’; and from Alex Buxton, Head of New Business, at the IPA who provided an update on all IPA activity and resources available to agencies to help them to recruit fresh, diverse talent.

One of the latest resources to help attract diverse talent to the industry, in addition to the IPA’s Creative Pioneers apprenticeship programme and its nationwide careers open day AdUnlocked, is the launch of the new careers pages on the IPA website. These pages feature over 40 job descriptions to provide future adlanders from all backgrounds with the full depth and breadth of positions available in the industry and what these entail.

Download the full research
Last updated 01 May 2024