Diversity within ad agencies improved slightly in 2017

Tyrone Stewart

Multicultural diverse peopleLevels of diversity within advertising agencies showed slight signs of improvement in 2017, but still remain well off parity, according research from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA).

The UK ad trade association found that the number of women in C-suite roles had increased to 30.9 per cent from 30.3 per cent in 2016. Since the IPA’s annual diversity survey – which had 128 UK agencies respond this time round – was introduced in 2006, the number of women in C-suite roles has increased 7.6 per cent from 23.3 per cent.

Within creative agencies, women were found to hold 30.4 per cent of C-suite roles, while this figure sits at 31.8 per cent in media agencies.

Meanwhile, 12.9 per cent of people working in advertising are from a BAME background, up from 12 per cent in 2016 and more than double the 6.1 per cent in 2006. Within creative agencies this breaks down to 10.7 per cent, and media agencies 15 per cent.

 “At first glance the immediate reaction to these figures is that they aren’t where they should be,” said Sarah Golding, IPA president and CEO CHI&Partners. “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.”

The IPA also found that representation of individuals of BAME background is at its highest at junior level, where the figure reaches 16.4 per cent.

“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,” added Golding. “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.”