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IPA President sets adland ambitious diversity targets

IPA President Tom Knox is to set the agency business a number of ambitious targets on gender and ethnic diversity representation. These goals will be announced at tonight’s IPA President’s Reception and are featured in today’s Campaign magazine.


Diversity goals:

  • On gender, the goal is that by 2020 women will hold 40% of senior positions within all agencies, and at each stage of the career ladder (Executive/Assistant, Middle Manager, Head of Department, Director/Other Executive Management and C-Suite).
  • On ethnic diversity, the goal is that at least 15% of people in leadership positions in the IPA’s biggest agencies* will be from a non-white background in 2020.
  • This is in addition to the IPA’s existing commitment to help the industry recruit 25% of new joiners from BAME backgrounds by 2020.

These targets have been set as a result of a new IPA survey into the gender and BAME split by department and seniority within its biggest agencies* which forms parts of Tom Knox’s presidential ‘Here for Good’ agenda to reassert and secure for the future advertising’s role as a culturally, social and economically enriching force for good.

This comes as the IPA works with Campaign on publishing the first part of the survey findings on gender today. The second part on ethnic diversity will be published next Thursday (21st January) and will be followed by the publication of the main annual IPA Agency Census, the definitive survey of the industry’s employment trends, on 28th January.

Survey highlights on gender:

Women in seniority

o   Women make up 50.4% of total employees in the biggest agencies, 30.5% in the highest levels of seniority (Chair, CEO, MD) and 31.3% of other executive management positions. These figures are over 5% higher than those found in the most recent survey of FTSE companies by the Government (25%).

o   In creative agencies these figures stand at 25.7% and 27.3% respectively and rise to 37.5% and 41.3% in media agencies.

o   The percentage of females declines markedly as females move up the seniority level – particularly between the levels of middle management at 49.5% women, to the next level up of Head of Department where it falls to 39.2%.

Women by department

o   Tech-led (80.1% men) and Creative/design (75.4% men) roles have a significant male bias, while admin/HR/Finance (66.9%), account management (61.8% women), and comms/media planning (58.9%) have a significant female bias.

Women pay*

o   Whilst females are a minority at the highest levels of seniority, the Chair/CEO/MD proportion of salary does not appear to be less overall.

o   This is particularly true at the highest levels of seniority in creative agencies where females account for 25.7% of the employees but 27.2% of salaries.  

o   In media agencies however, females account for 37.5% of the base but 35.2% of salaries at the highest levels of seniority.

Flexible working opportunities

o   On average the bigger agencies offer 5-6 flexible working options (such as homeworking, job-sharing, compressed hours etc).

o   Women make significantly more use of flexible working arrangements at every level overall: executives/assistants (4.9% women vs 0.7% men); middle managers (5.2% women vs 0.7% men); heads of department (15% women vs 1.2% men); other executive management (19% women vs 2.5% of men) and chair/CEO/MD (15.2% women vs 3.6% men).

o   This trend is seen in both creative and media agencies with the exception at Chair/CEO/MD level in media agencies where 7.4% of men make use of flexible working arrangements vs 6.7% of women.

Says Tom Knox, President, IPA: “One of my key goals as IPA President is to attract and retain a talented and diverse workforce for the benefit of all. This survey has provided a highly insightful lay of the land – and it is pleasing that we compare favourably with other professional service companies. There is however a long way to go before we have achieved proportionate gender and ethnic diversity representation. By setting ourselves benchmarks we will be able to measure our collective progress in the future. The responsibility lies with all of us.”

The IPA will support member agencies in meeting these targets by continuing to promote and develop its current talent programmes including the popular Women of Tomorrow Awards, AdMission, Creative Pioneers and its qualifications programme.  It will also be developing new initiatives including a return to work programme to encourage women back into work following a career break (often post maternity) and active support of the industry’s Great British Diversity Experiment which launched this week.

The survey comprises 37 of the IPA’s biggest agencies who either have a gross income above £20million or more than 200 employees.

*The survey does not analyse the impact of employee hours, including flexible working, on salary, which might clarify pay differentials across genders. 


Last updated 14/01/2016

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