Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Ad agencies falling short on diversity and gender equality targets, finds 2020 IPA Agency Census

The 2020 IPA Agency Census, published today, has revealed that staff numbers in IPA member agencies have been seriously impacted by Covid-19: numbers within IPA agency member agencies fell 10.8% from 24,866 in 2019 to 22,188 in 2020. In creative and other media non-media agencies numbers fell by 9.0% from 13,509 in 2019 to 12,298 in 2020, while the number of employees in media agencies fell by 12.1% from 11,357 to 9,980.

The number of males employed in member agencies fell by 8.1% year-on–year from 11,700 to 10,752, while the number of females employed fell by 12.8% from 13,088 to 11,411. In addtion, overall percentage of females in C-suite positions fell from 34.0% in 2019 to 32.4%. In creative and other non-media agencies, this figure was 32.1%, down from 33.2% in 2019, while in their media agency counterparts it was slightly higher at 32.8%, down from 35.8% in 2019.

Overall, agencies reported that just over a quarter (25.3%) of total employee departures were a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This figure was higher in creative and other non-media at 30.6% than in their media agency counterparts at 19.6%.

The overall number of individuals working in their agencies in a part-time role fell by 23.2% to 1,240 from the 1,615 recorded in 2019. The number of females in a part-time role fell by 24.5% from 1,373 to 1,037, while the number of males in a part-time role fell by 15.1% from 238 to 202.

There was, however, some progress in terms of ethnic diversity. The number of employees from a non-white background is estimated at 15.3%, up from the 13.7% recorded in 2019.

Each of the seniority bands used in the survey have year-on-year increases in non-white representation with numbers highest at junior levels at 21.9%, up from 17.7% in 2019, At the C-Suite level (comprising Chair/CEO/MD and Other Executive Management), 6.4% of roles are occupied by individuals from a non-white background, up from 4.7% in 2019.

The number of those aged under 25 employed in member agencies declined by 29.4% from the 4,592 recorded in 2019 to 3.243 in 2020 with the 1,349 departures accounting for over 50% of the total decline in employee numbers (2,678). While the numbers of employees over 60 in the industry are comparatively smaller, this age bracket also saw a significant fall of 22.1% from 240 to 187 year-on-year.

The average employee age in a media agency is 32.0 years, compared to an average of 36.4 years in creative and other non-media agencies.

Pay gaps

Among member agencies providing salary breakdowns by seniority and gender a gender pay gap of 22.7% in favour of males exists which is down slightly on the 24.4% gap recorded in 2019. 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 14,3%. At 26.8% the gender pay gap is higher in agencies with up to 200 employees than it is in their larger counterparts where it is 20.9%

Among respondents providing salary breakdowns by seniority and ethnic background, an ethnicity pay gap of 19.5% in favour of those from a white background exists. This stands at 16.2% in creative and other non-media agencies and 21.2% in media agencies. At 21.8% the ethnicity pay gap is higher in agencies with more than 200 employees than it is in their smaller counterparts where it stands at 13.6%. (This is the first time the IPA Agency Census has measured this.)

IPA President, Julian Douglas, said: “The pandemic has hit all areas of our lives, and sadly but unsurprisingly our jobs, as this latest IPA Census reveals. With the exception of numbers of people from non-white backgrounds increasing in spite of overall numbers falling, the impact of the pandemic has exaggerated some existing negative trends. Talent is equally distributed, opportunity isn’t.”

Leila Siddiqi, IPA Associate Director, Diversity, commented:This year’s Census results confirm that the industry hasn’t met the IPA diversity targets we set in 2016. These targets were a deliberate moonshot to focus agencies’ attention on improving the diversity and inclusivity of their workforce and the work they produce for the benefit of all.

“Reaching these targets requires industry leaders to double down on their efforts. They should look critically at their existing portfolio of D&I activities, evaluate the success and failure of each and work out what else they need to do. The roadmap laid out in our recent publication, A Future of Fairness, is a good place to start.”

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 most prominently, the IPA’s newly published ‘A Future of Fairness’ report.

This year the IPA has 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, under a new campaign that launched last week called All In. This study is targeted at the individual-level and will provide granular detail on all aspects of the workplace regarding diversity and inclusion. Today (Friday 19 March) marks the last day for individuals to complete the 15-minute All In survey.

Download the free, full 2020 IPA Agency Census from the IPA website.