NEWS25 January 2024

Ethnic diversity falls among advertising workforce, finds IPA census

Inclusion Media News People UK

UK –  There has been a small decline in the level of ethnic diversity at advertising agencies, although the gender pay gap and the percentage of senior leaders who are female have both marginally improved, according to the 2023 Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) agency census.

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The census, now in its 64th year, found that females occupied 37.9% of executive management roles, up from 37.5% in 2022.

A pay gap of 15.2% in favour of males exists among agencies, the census found, which was lower than the 17.4% recorded in 2022 and the 23.3% recorded in 2021.

However, the percentage of employees from a non-white background was estimated at 23.3%, down from the 23.6% reported in 2022.

In terms of seniority, individuals from a non-white background accounted for 11% of employees in executive management, a reduction from the 11.2% reported in 2022.  

Individuals from a non-white background occupied 35.6% of entry and junior-level roles, according to the 2023 census, up from the 33.3% reported in 2022.

Among the agencies providing salary breakdowns by ethnicity and seniority, an ethnicity pay gap of 21.6% in favour of white employees was noted by the IPA census – an increase on the gap of 21.1% reported in 2022.

At 23.6%, the differential is higher in media agencies than it is in creative and other non-media agencies, where it stands at 17.3%. 

Total staff turnover was 31.2%, a marginal decline from 32.4% in 2022, with the number of employees working full time in their agency increasing from 24,545 in 2022 to 24,910 in 2023.

The vast majority of agencies were continuing to use a hybrid approach to working, with 54.8% using a three-day office/two-day remote model for their workers and a further 27% using a two-day office/three-day remote model.

The average age of employees increased from 34.4 years in 2022 to 34.6 years in 2023, with 7% aged 50 or over.

Paul Bainsfair, director general at the IPA, said: “There are less dramatic improvements this year across key metrics, although some progress in some areas, such as the increase in women at the most senior levels of our business, which is most welcome.

“What is clear, however, with overall numbers of people from non-white backgrounds and numbers of people from non-white backgrounds in the c-suite both declining marginally, is that we mustn’t lose momentum on the great work our agencies have invested in over the past few years to make our business more diverse and inclusive.

“Let’s continue our efforts here regarding attracting, retaining, promoting and fairly remunerating our talent.”

Leila Siddiqi, director of diversity and inclusion at the IPA, added: “While the percentage of people from non-white backgrounds, at 23.3% of our business, is significantly higher than the Office for National Statistic’s national figures for the UK’s percentage of 18%, there is a stalling of progress this year in terms of the recruitment, progression and remuneration of ethnically diverse talent.

“By shining a light on areas that need our attention, we can make speedier progress. The richer and more diverse the composition of our industry, the more relevant and interesting we will be for our clients, audiences and modern-day British society.”