New IPA Diversity Survey shows slow progress for C-suite women and ethnic minority staff

The UK’s IPA trade body, which represents creative and media agencies, has released its latest Diversity Survey and it shows marginally more women in so-called C-suite jobs (32.7 per cent compared to 31.2 per cent in 2017).

People from from a BAME background (black, asian, minority ethnic) now fill 13.8 per cent of all agency jobs (up from 12.9 per cent in 2017), 5.5 per cent at C-suite level (up from 4.7 per cent in 2017) and 16.9 per cent at junior levels (up from 16.4 per cent in 2017.)

So such representation is inching forwards although painfully slowly.

IPA president and The&Partnership CEO Sarah Golding (below) says: “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.”

One such challenge of today will presumably be agency recruitment as a whole. Creative agencies especially are having a hard time of it with margins, and therefore recruitment, at the big holding company agencies under pressure and hiring freezes in place at some along with no pay increases.

Mergers like the recent VML with Y&R and Wunderman with JWT at WPP will presumably also impact staff levels.

Someone from a BAME background joining at a lower level will find the business of making to the celebrated C-suite nigh on impossible as doors close. An increasing number of bright young agency people are surely looking for alternatives in tech and social media companies, among others.

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About Stephen Foster

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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.