Ethnic diversity is up 20% at agencies but ethnicity pay gap has widened, new IPA Census shows

Agencies are finally taking diversity and inclusion beyond rhetoric and making real change, according to the new IPA Census, which shows that the percentage of employees from a non-white background is estimated at 18.3%, up almost 20% from the 15.3% reported in 2020.

But the ethnicity pay gap in favour of white employees has increased, rising to 21.2% from 19.5% in 2020. For media agencies, it’s 23.4% and for creative and non-media agencies, it’s 15.3%.

This is despite the fact that diversity figures are creeping up in the c-suite, rising from 6.4% in 2020 to 7.1% in 2021, with creative and non-media agencies ahead at 7.4% vs 6.6% in media agencies.

At a junior level, 27.1% of entry level roles are held by individuals from a non-white background, up from 21.9%. Here, media agencies are more diverse with 30.2% vs 23.6% in non-media agencies.

Individuals from an Asian or Asian British background account for 7.9% of the employee base, while those from a Black or Black British background account for 4.4%, and those from a mixed or multiple ethnic background 4.1%. Those from any other ethnic background account for around 2.0%.

Improvement in gender representation began earlier, and is making correspondingly slower progress now. Females occupied 33.5% of c-suite roles (33.9% in creative agencies), up from 32.4% in 2020. Men are still earning significantly more, with an average pay gap of 23.3% in favour of males.

The survey also asked agencies about hybrid working and found that more than 85% have adopted it. Just over a third (35%) are asking employees to come in three days a week; 31.1% are stipulating two days in the office, and 14.6% are adopting a fully flexible approach.

Paul Bainsfair, director general of the IPA, said: “There are some welcome figures within this year’s Census findings, particularly regarding the increase in the ethnic diversity of our business. I have no doubt that these improvements have been fuelled by some fantastic initiatives and we mustn’t lose momentum here. Despite these areas of positivity, with talent as our industry’s most valuable resource, there is of course more to be done.”



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