IPA Agency Census highlights industry pay gaps

The 2022 Agency Census from the IPA shows increased staff numbers but continued gender and ethnicity pay gaps

Georgie Moreton

Deputy Editor, BITE Creativebrief


Indicative of an industry-wide push toward greater diversity and inclusion, the IPA has revealed the findings of its 2022 Agency Census. The data reveals a rising number of women in C-suite positions, as well as a growing number from non-white backgrounds. 

The IPA’s Agency Census, now in its 63rd year, shows that overall staff numbers within IPA agency membership have increased by almost a fifth year on year, passing 26,000 employees for the first time and showing post-covid employment level recovery. As of 1st September 2022, employee numbers stand at 26,290 compared with 22,062 employees recorded in 2021, representing an increase of 19.2%.

The census has also worked to uncover diversity trends of advertising agencies within IPA membership and has reported significant improvements on previous years. The share of women in C-suite positions has increased by 12% and the share of individuals from a non-white background in the C-suite has increased by 58%, showing an improved pace of change year-on-year.

Working toward better representation

With increases in overall staff numbers, the census revealed a 13.2% increase in male employees and a 24.1% increase in female employees from an estimated 11,612 in 2021, to 14,411 in 2022. This means women now account for 54.8% of the total employed base and men account for 44.8% of the total employed base.

Notably, females occupied a 37.5% share of C-suite roles, up 12% from the 33.5% recorded in 2021. Media agencies saw the greatest increase, with women in C-suite positions up by a considerable 19%, from 32.8% in 2021 to 39.0% in 2022. Females occupied a 36.3% share of C-suite roles in creative and other non-media agencies.

The census also recorded an increased share of individuals from a non-white background in C-suite up by 58% which equates to 11.2% of non-white employees in C-suite positions in 2022 compared to just 7.1% in 2021. This was alongside an overall percentage of employees from a non-white background estimated at 23.6%, up by almost a third (29% increase) on the 18.3% reported in 2021. Individuals from a non-white background occupy 33.3% of entry and junior-level roles, up from the 27.1% in 2021.

Closing the pay-gap

Both the gender and ethnicity pay gaps remain but the report suggests that the gender pay gap has dropped compared to previous years.

Agencies that provided salary breakdowns by gender and seniority reported a 17.4% gender pay gap. Though this is lower than 23.3% reported in 2021,  in creative and non-media agencies the pay gap remains high at 21.1%. While media agencies have lowered the gap to 14.3%.

There also remains a significant ethnicity and seniority pay gap of 21.1% in favour of white employees which has remained relatively unchanged, declining by just 0.01%. 

Where the census shows an increase in employee diversity figures, the fact that such pay-gaps remain shows that there is a continued need for agencies and employers to be intentional about measurement and change. 

Forming a representative workforce

Other key findings from the survey show an increased uptake in hybrid working and the slightly reduced average age of employees.

The average age of employees has reduced marginally from 34.6 years to 34.4 years and just 6.5% of employees are aged 50+, which remains unchanged year-on-year. The figures are indicative of the industry’s ongoing ageism issue.

Yet, almost all agencies within IPA membership (96%) continued to take a hybrid approach to working with just over a third (38.6%) using a three-day remote / two-day office model for their workers or a two-days remote / three-days office model (also 38.6%). 

Just 4% of agencies have adopted a full-time approach, but the number of agencies intending to continue with a fully flexible approach to working practices has fallen by 59% from 16.9% in 2021 to 6.9% in 2022. News which may come as a blow to a more inclusive industry, as flexible working styles are able to better accommodate those with care or family commitments and neurodiverse working needs.

 “These latest results represent a much healthier pace of improvement than in previous years and demonstrate that our concerted collective efforts to improve diversity and inclusivity within our industry are beginning to pay off. We must continue this great work to ensure our business is fully representative and inclusive for those working within it and attractive to those considering a career within the agency world.” explains Paul Bainsfair, Director General, IPA: 

The census reveals a healthy increase in employee numbers and more diversity in C-suite positions. However, the findings also underline the need for the industry to work toward retention by closing the pay gap and creating a working environment that ensures the pace of improvement remains.

With the industry in need of more inclusive styles of working that can accommodate people from different backgrounds, these figures remain hopeful for those who make the most of flexible working patterns. The IPA’s targets aim for women to hold 40% of senior leadership positions. While at least 15% of people in leadership positions will be from non-white backgrounds and at least 25% of entry-level recruits should be Black, Asian and ethnic minority individuals.  Ensuring the workplace is inclusive is imperative to reaching these goals.

The IPA will be hosting its Talent Conference on 19 April 2023.