Diversity figures improve for Adland

Latest figures from the annual IPA Diversity survey published on 9th January, show increases in gender and ethnic diversity in its member agencies.

The survey reveals the gender and salary splits of individuals according to seniority, as well as the percentage of BAME employees in agencies.

Key highlights from the 2018 IPA Diversity Survey:

  • There has been a marginal increase in the number of women at C-suite level* from 31.2% in 2017 to 32.7% this year. This marks the second-highest level of female representation in the survey’s history, down from 2015’s peak of 33.1%, and a percentage increase of 4.8% year-on-year.
  • At creative agencies, women now occupy 32.8% of C-suite roles, up from 30.5% last year. At media agencies, there has been a slight increase in female representation at board level, from 32.2% to 32.7% this year.
  • Ethnic diversity among ad agencies is at its highest recorded level, with 13.8% of individuals from a BAME background, up from 12.9% in 2017. At creative agencies, 12.4% of employees are from BAME backgrounds compared with 10.7% last year, while within media agencies this figure is 15.2%, up from 15.0% in 2017.
  • The number of BAME individuals at C-suite level has increased from 4.7% in 2017 to 5.5%.
  • As in previous years, ethnic diversity is highest at junior levels where it reaches 16.9%, up from 16.4% in 2017.
  • Overall, there are minor male/female salary differentials relative to the percentage of staff employed at the various grading levels covered by the survey.

Says Sarah Golding, IPA President and CEO, The&Partnership: “These figures show an encouraging upwards trend, particularly among industry newcomers. However, we still expect and need these figures to continue to climb and start to make a more significant impact on percentages in the more senior positions.”

“The IPA does so much work in this area through its Creative Pioneers Apprenticeship scheme and its championing of women through the Women of Tomorrow Programme but our work is far from done. In 2019, we will begin work on updating ‘The Future of Work’, which is an IPA report that looks at how we work, and which was first published in 1990 as ‘Women in Advertising’. It will be fascinating to see what the industry thinks the challenges of today are and how we can continue to help address them.”

The IPA has set ambitious diversity targets for the industry, aiming to see 40% female and 15% BAME representation in agency leadership roles by 2020, along with 25% of new starters coming from BAME backgrounds. To help achieve these targets the IPA runs and supports a number of initiatives, including:

  • Unstereotype Alliance: the IPA is a lead member of this UN Women programme with the dual goals of removing stereotypes within creative work and improving gender diversity in adland.
  • Advertising Diversity Taskforce: the IPA is a member Grey’s cross-industry taskforce looking at identifying barriers and creating solutions for the recruitment and retention of diverse talent.
  • Code of Best Practice on Dignity at Work: a template ‘dignity at work’ / anti –harassment and bulling’ policy with accompanying guidelines for implementing the policies to help eradicate inappropriate behaviour in the workplace.
  • Advertising Unlocked: a nationwide industry careers day, showcasing the breadth of roles in advertising to encourage school leavers from all backgrounds to consider a career in advertising.
  • Women of Tomorrow: a biennial awards programme designed to empower and celebrate women in mid-to-senior roles.
  • Stepping into the Spotlight: a series of aspirational leadership sessions, including salary negotiation training to help nurture outstanding female talent in middle management roles.
  • Diversity Roundtables: these panel discussions bring together senior leaders from within and outside adland to discuss best practice and thought leadership around diversity and inclusion.
  • AdMission: in partnership with graduate recruitment app debut, AdMission provides the opportunity to advertise entry level and graduate recruitment roles to a targeted audience of BAME candidates.
  • Creative Pioneers: this apprenticeship programme has helped give over 700 young people a start in the industry since 2012, over 40% of whom come from a BAME background.
  • Consultancy, insights and best practice: IPA Head of Diversity Leila Siddiqi works with member agencies and other external stakeholders to advise them on how to implement or enhance their diversity programmes, how the IPA can support them and by sharing best practice.

Download the 2018 IPA Diversity survey here.


In 2018, 70.8% of the employed base at IPA member agencies took part. This represents 105 agencies out of 230 contacted.

Response by agency size and type was as follows:

71 creative agencies

  • 45 with up to 200 employees.
  • 26 with more than 200 employees (or a gross income in excess of £20m).

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