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UK’s IPA agency trade body launches campaign to recruit more non-white adfolk

The UK’s IPA, which represents advertising, marketing and media agencies, has formed a partnership with Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) London, a not-for-profit organisation focused on improving access into the most competitive professions for students from under-represented ethnic minority backgrounds.

The venture forms part of the IPA’s wider agenda by its Ethnic Diversity Group and Future of Talent Group to encourage more people from ethnic diversities to join the industry and supports president Nicola Mendelsohn’s agenda to invest in fresh talent from all backgrounds so the the UK advertising industry to embrace change, harness new technologies and lead globally.

Latest figures from the IPA’s annual census show that 90.6 per cent of the employed base is from a white background with just 9.04 per cent is from a non-white background. This is roughly in line with the UK population as a whole but way below the 20 per cent or so figure for London, where most agencies are based.

As part of the partnership SEO London has visited 59 universities and has held over 100 events on campus to educate students from ethnic backgrounds about the advertising and marketing communications industries. Following this, 600 Afro-Caribbean and Asian students expressed interest in the industry, 300 applied for one-to-one conversations and 120 of these students have been selected to take part in a training and networking programme during February and April this year.

The programme will comprise of a series of workshops and networking days hosted by the IPA where member agencies which will expose students to the wide variety of careers and work available within the industry, focussing on the generalist roles as well as those relating to data gathering and analytics. The students that impress will be fast tracked for internship and graduate opportunities within the IPA’s member agencies and/or considered for a place on the IPA’s AdSchool in summer 2012.

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IPA marketing director Janet Hull (pictured) says: “As jobs in advertising are changing to reflect a multi-cultural UK society and a global digital economy, the industry is now seeking graduates from a wider range of backgrounds and disciplines than ever before. Thanks to this partnership with SEO London we can tap into some top talent who, as SEO’s visits have revealed, might not have considered a job in the industry before as none of them have had any previous contact with it, so we are breaking new ground. Our aim is attract up to 50 new recruits from Afro-Caribbean and Asian backgrounds into the industry by September this year. ”

Hason Sandhu, SEO MD Hason Sandhu says: “It is clear that there is a great deal of interest in the advertising and marketing communications industries from the best and brightest ethnic minority undergraduates on campus. It is also clear that more needs to be done to better educate them about the wide range of graduate roles that these industries offer and it is for this reason we are extremely excited about our partnership with the IPA. The education and networking events that the IPA has put in place for these students will undoubtedly lead to an improvement in the pipeline of ethnically diverse talent entering the industry in the coming years.”

Elsewhere the census shows that employment in IPA agencies rose from 18843 in 2010 to 19732 in 2011, an increase of 2.8 per cent. The average agency size has increased from 71.4 employees to 77.5 employees.

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The number of first year trainees in IPA agencies has increased from 723 to 862, a year-on-year increase of 19.2 per cent while the male to female ratio remains roughly the same: males account for 51.3 per cent of the employed base and females for 48.7 per cent. But women constitute another minority at senior levels, accounting for just 13.5 per cent of those at the highest levels of seniority including Chair/CEO/MD (down 3.5 per cent year-on-year) and 27.3 per cent of other executive management positions (up 1.8 per cent year-on-year).

This means that the overall percentage of women on executive boards is 22.4 per cent, which is unchanged year-on-year. The average age of an IPA employee remains a (relatively) youthful 33.8.

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