New IPA survey reveals painfully slow progress towards diversity

Much hot air around diversity and its sister equality – wot, you hadn’t noticed? – so it’s good to get some stats about people from BAME backgrounds (British, Black, Asian and minority ethnic – i.e. non-white) in IPA agencies, representing most in the UK.

The trade body’s latest annual Diversity Study show things are getting better, slowly, but they still have a long, long way to go.

Shockingly people from such backgrounds comprise just 10.7 per cent of employees in creative agencies (15 per cent in media agencies). Which, given that most ads are aimed at such people (among others), is pretty damning. How can you communicate with people when, in effect, they’re foreigners? Not to mention equal opportunities, assuming that people still want to work in agencies.

Other findings include:

* A marginal increase in women in C-suite roles year-on-year, from 30.3 per cent in 2016 to 30.9 per cent in 2017. Over the longer term, this has increased from 23.3 per cent in 2006, when the industry was first surveyed.

* In creative agencies 30.4 per cent of C-suite roles are occupied by females, 31.8 per cent in media agencies.

* Representation of individuals from a BAME background is highest at junior level at 16.4 per cent.

* Overall there are minor male/female salary differentials relative to the percentage of staff employed at the various grading levels covered by the survey.

IPA president and CEO of CHI&Partners Sarah Golding says: “At first glance the immediate reaction to these figures is that they aren’t where they should be. However, while the rise in diversity doesn’t appear extreme enough or fast enough, nor have we achieved parity at all levels, the actions we are now taking as an industry to improve diversity will inevitably begin to bear fruit and ensure this positive, long-term trajectory continues.

“On which note, it is welcome news that at the junior end of the business the numbers of women and those from BAME backgrounds are significantly higher, ensuring the funnel leading to the senior level is in good shape. However, it is imperative that we ensure this talent stays in the industry and climbs up to the top spots. And that once there, it stays there, which is something I am pleased to say the industry is addressing head-on, with a myriad of diversity initiatives, actions and behaviours.”

Among agency initiatives, Grey has launched an industry-wide Diversity Taskforce; Engine has launched its Better With Balance initiative while CHI has removed the requirement for CVs and personal details from its entry-level scheme SPARK to try to create a level playing field for all applicants, whatever their educational or ethnic background.

The full survey will be available from the IPA’s website.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

2 comments

  1. “Shockingly people from such backgrounds comprise just 10.7 per cent of employees in creative agencies (15 per cent in media agencies). Which, given that most ads are aimed at such people (among others), is pretty damning.”

    The BAME number of the UK population is 13.8%. Whilst the numbers might be said to not be proportionally representative they are hardly ‘shocking’. Also ‘most ads are aimed at such people’. What are you on about?

  2. Aimed at such people as part of the wider community.

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