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IPA publishes the 2021 Agency Census

The IPA has today published its 2021 Agency Census revealing that overall staff numbers within IPA agency membership stabilised in 2021, in comparison with the considerable drop in numbers measured in the 2020 Census, meanwhile the level of ethnic diversity increased by almost 20% year-on-year.

According to the IPA Agency Census, now in its 62nd year, the number of employees within IPA member agencies on 1 September 2021 was 22,062, down 0.6% on the 2020 figures of 22,188. This is markedly more stable than the 10.8% drop in staffing levels measured in the 2020 Agency Census.

Breaking down the 2021 figures, the number of employees in creative and other non-media agencies fell marginally from an estimated 12,298 in 2020 to 12,278 in 2021, while the number of employees in media agencies fell from an estimated 9,890 in 2020 to 9,784 in 2021. Meanwhile, the overall number of male employees fell from an estimated 10,752 in 2020 to 10,403 in 2021, while the number of female employees increased from an estimated 11,411 in 2020 to 11,612 in 2021.

Additional key 2021 IPA Agency Census findings:

The ethnic diversity of member agencies has improved significantly

The percentage of employees from a non-white background is estimated at 18.3%, up almost 20% (19.6%) on the figure of 15.3% reported in 2020.

Individuals from an Asian or Asian British background account for 7.9% of the employee base, while those from a Black or Black British background account for 4.4%, and those from a Mixed or multiple ethnic backgrounds 4.1%. Those from any other ethnic background account for around 2.0%,

In terms of seniority, individuals from a non-white background account for 7.1% of C-suite roles in agencies, up from 6.4% reported in 2020, this increase has been driven by creative and other non-media agencies at 7.4% vs 6.6% in media agencies.

Meanwhile, individuals from a non-white background occupy 27.1% of entry and junior level roles, up from 21.9% in 2020. Dividing this into agency types, in media agencies, 30.2% of individuals are from a non-white background, up from 25.9% in 2020, while the equivalent figure in creative and other non-media agencies is 23.6%, up from 17.8% in 2020.

The number of women in C-suite positions increases marginally

Females occupied 33.5% of C-suite roles, up marginally from the 32.4% recorded in 2020. This figure was slightly higher in creative and non-media agencies, at 33.9% than in media agencies (32.8%),

Overall gender and ethnicity pay gaps of over 20% were observed

Among those member agencies providing salary breakdowns by gender and seniority, a pay gap of 23.3% in favour of males exists, little changed from the 22.7% recorded in 2020. At 25.8%, the gender pay gap is significantly higher in creative and other non-media agencies than it is in media agencies, where it stands at 18.9%.

Among those member agencies providing salary breakdowns by ethnicity and seniority, an ethnicity pay gap of 21.2% in favour of white employees exists, up on the 19.5% reported in 2020. At 23.4%, the differential is higher in media agencies than it is in creative and other non-media agencies where it stands at 15.3%.

The vast majority of agencies are adopting hybrid working models post the Covid-19 pandemic

Over 85% of agencies indicated that following Covid-19 they would be adopting a hybrid approach to working. Just over a third of agencies (35.0%) indicated that they would be adopting a two-days remote/three-days office model for their workers while 31.1% indicated that they would be adopting a three-days remote/two-days office model, and 14.6% a fully flexible approach.

Commenting on the findings:

Says Paul Bainsfair, Director General, IPA:

“There are some welcome figures within this year’s Census findings, particularly regarding the increase in the ethnic diversity of our business. I have no doubt that these improvements have been fuelled by some fantastic initiatives our industry has embraced over the past couple of years, and we mustn’t lose momentum here.

“It is also interesting to see the impact that the pandemic has had on our agency working models. With flexible working considered as one of the core opportunities for improving diversity, it is positive news that over 85% of our agencies are adopting hybrid working models and we look forward to charting the impact of this in our future Censuses.

“Despite these areas of positivity, with talent as our industry’s most valuable resource, there is of course more to be done. On which note, the IPA is hugely encouraged by the soon-to-be announced iList winners; their actions are driving real equitable change for the benefit of us all. I also look forward to the lessons to come out of the IPA’s upcoming IPA Talent and Diversity Conference on 4 May which will investigate the best ways to recruit and retain talent and recognise the champions driving us forwards.”

IPA initiatives to improve diversity and inclusivity

To address and progress the levels of diversity and inclusivity within the agency community, the IPA has a full programme listed on its diversity site. Key highlights include the iList, its Stepping into the Spotlight series, its work with the  UK UN Unstereotype Alliance, and its ‘A Future of Fairness’ report. Edited as a series of opinions from industry leaders and interspersed with current industry best practice, the free publication supports the new IPA Diversity & Inclusion Essentials Certificate. The IPA also joined forces with the Advertising Association (AA) and ISBA to deliver the first industry-wide (agency, advertiser and media owner) diversity and inclusion staff survey All In. This study is targeted at the individual-level and provides granular detail on all aspects of the workplace regarding diversity and inclusion.

The IPA will also be hosting a Talent and Diversity Conference on 4 May 2022 in which it will be tackling the core areas of recruitment, retention and recognition. More information will be available on the IPA website.

The IPA Agency Census 2021 will be available to download free from the IPA website.