Employment diversity figures "aren't where they should be", says IPA chief Golding

The advertising industry has made only marginal progress in its quest for a more diverse workforce, according to the IPA's annual Diversity Survey, carried out in partnership with Campaign.

The IPA’s 230 member agencies were invited to respond between July and November 2017, and a total of 131 agencies took part, representing 85.8% of total member employees.

According to this year’s report, there is an equal gender balance across all agencies, with 50.5% female and 49.5% male. Creative agencies continue to have a male bias (51.8% male versus 48.2% female) while media agencies see a weighting towards females (53% female versus 46.5% male).

However, only 30.9% of C-suite roles are held by women, up from 30.3% in 2016. The figure rises to 38.2% of department-head positions, and 46.5% of other senior staff roles.

It means the industry is likely to fall short of the IPA’s target of 40% of all senior positions to be held by women by 2020.

Similarly incremental progress has been made in ethnic diversity, where the IPA has challenged its biggest agencies to have a minimum of 15% of their leadership positions held by people from a non-white background by 2020.

Across agencies, 12.9% of all staff come from a BAME background, up from just 6.1% in 2007. The average is 15% at media agencies, but 10.7% at creative agencies.

Thanks to a string of industry initiatives, greater numbers of individuals with a BAME background are joining agencies – representing 16.4% of the most junior positions, up from 15% in 2016.

Yet just 4.7% of C-suite roles are occupied by people of a BAME background, down from 5.2% in 2016.

Writing in Campaign, Sarah Golding, IPA president and chief executive and partner at CHI & Partners, admitted the figures were disappointing, but argued that plenty of progress towards a more diverse workforce is being made. 

"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, and we have yet to achieve parity at all levels, there is an inevitable time lag from implementing change to seeing results, and we mustn’t lose heart," she said.

"On closer inspection of the data, we must take solace in the fact we are on the right track. The actions we are now taking as an industry will inevitably begin to bear fruit and ensure this positive, long-term trajectory continues."

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