The agency sector appears to have made huge strides in tackling the age-old problem of an industry dominated by white, middle class men – the so-called male, pale and stale brigade – after witnessing major increases in diversity and inclusion over the past 12 months.
According to the IPA’s 2022 Agency Census, staff numbers have increased by almost a fifth year-on-year, while the share of women in C-suite positions has increased and the share of individuals from a non-white background in the C-suite has soared, representing a considerable improvement in the pace of change year-on-year.
In fact, overall staff numbers within IPA agency membership have not only recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic, they now stand at a record high of 26,290. This is compared with 22,062 employees recorded in 2021, representing an increase in the size of the employed base of 19.2%.
Breaking this overall figure down by agency type, the number of employees in creative and other non-media agencies increased 19.3%, from an estimated 12,278 in 2021, to 14,643 in 2022, while the number of employees in media agencies increased 19.0%, from an estimated 9,784 in 2021, to 11,647 in 2022.
Within these figures, the number of males employed in member agencies increased by 13.2%, from an estimated 10,403 in 2021 to 11,777 in 2022, while the number of female employees increased by 24,1%, from an estimated 11,612 in 2021, to 14,411 in 2022. This means women now account for 54.8% of the total employed base and men account for 44.8% of the total.
There has also been an improvement in female representation in C-suite roles to 37.5%, up 12% from the 33.5% recorded in 2021.
Females occupied a 36.3% share of C-suite roles in creative and other non-media agencies, up 7% from 33.9% in 2021, and a 39.0% share in their media-agency counterparts, up by a considerable 19% from 32.8% in 2021.
IPA agencies have also increased the level of ethnic diversity, with the share of individuals from a non-white background in C-suite jumping by 58%, albeit from a low base.
In fact, the percentage of employees from a non-white background is estimated at 23.6%, up by almost a third (29%) on the 18.3% reported in 2021.
In terms of seniority, individuals from a non-white background account for 11.2% of employees in C-suite roles, up by 58% from the 7.1% reported in 2021.
Individuals from a non-white background occupy 33.3% of entry and junior-level roles, up from the 27.1% reported in 2021.
In media agencies, at junior and entry levels 36.7% of individuals are from a non-white background, up from 30.2% in 2021, while the equivalent figures in creative and other non-media agencies is 27.8%, up from 23.6% in 2021.
Among those member agencies providing salary breakdowns by gender and seniority, a pay gap of 17.4% in favour of males exists although this is lower than the 23.3% recorded in 2021. At 21.1% (from 25.8% in 2021), the gender pay gap is considerably higher in creative and other non-media agencies than it is in media agencies, where it stands at 14.3% (from 18.9% in 2021).
Among those member agencies providing salary breakdowns by ethnicity and seniority, an ethnicity pay gap of 21.1% in favour of white employees exists. This is relatively unchanged from the 21.2% ethnicity pay gap recorded in 2021. At 22.5%, the differential is higher in media agencies (23.4% in 2021) than it is in creative and other non-media agencies, where it stands at 16.1% (15.3% in 2021).
When it comes to working practices, almost all agencies within IPA membership (96%) indicated that they were continuing to use a hybrid approach, with just over a third (38.6%) using a three-day remote/two-day office model for their workers or a two-days remote/three-days office model (also 38.6%).
Only 4% have adopted a full-time – everyone in all the time – approach, although this is up from 1.2% in 2021. Meanwhile, the number of agencies intending to continue with a fully flexible approach to working practices has fallen by 59% from 16.9% in 2021 to just 6.9% in 2022, seemingly signalling the beginning of the end for hybrid working.
Some things don’t change, however, most notably that agencies are a young person’s domain. The average age of employees has reduced marginally from 34.6 years in 2021 to 34.4 years in 2022. 6.5% of employees are aged 50+, which remains unchanged year-on-year.
IPA director general Paul Bainsfair said: “These latest results represent a much healthier pace of improvement than in previous years and demonstrate that our concerted collective efforts to improve diversity and inclusivity within our industry are beginning to pay off.
“We must continue this great work to ensure our business is fully representative and inclusive for those working within it and attractive to those considering a career within the agency world.”
IPA associate director of diversity Leila Siddiqi added: “This year’s Census findings paint a hopeful, much improved snapshot of the industry. The pandemic and Black Lives Matter have proved to be real catalysts, and provided priceless stimulus and purpose to people who were already frustrated at the slow rate of positive change in our industry.
“Now is the time to double down on our collective efforts by paying extra attention to the areas of fair pay, equal opportunity and creating inclusive, flexible workplace cultures which enable all underrepresented groups to thrive and reach their full potential.”
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