IPA on a mission for equality

IPA on a mission for equality


The gender pay gap was the IPA’s latest target in the fight to make advertising more diverse.

When Tom Knox took up Presidency of the IPA he set out his Here for Good agenda, seeking to enforce advertising as a positive force from every angle, including a focus on a diverse workforce.

Quite apart from being the right thing to do, diversity in the workforce is good for creativity and the bottom line.

And the IPA aren’t the only organisation that think so. The British Government has announced plans for a searchable database of employee pay for all companies with over 250 employees. This is a bid to close the gender pay gap, which (according to the Office of National Statistics) sees women earn 9.4 per cent less, on average, than men.

The IPA’s pay gap

In the IPA agencies surveyed, women made up 50.4% of total staff and 44.3% of the salaries. This puts the IPA gender pay gap at 6.1 per cent, around a third less than the national average. This is explained, according to the IPA, by more women than men taking advantage of flexible working arrangements. Usually post-maternity.

The societal factors behind more women than men altering their working life post-maternity is a whole different topic.

The point is that the IPA is clearly on the right track, pre-empting Downing Street’s announcement and releasing their pay survey a month before government plans were announced, even going above and beyond government standards. Even smaller companies volunteered their data, something government plans will not require.

Equality goals

It’s not just gender pay that will come under scrutiny, but gender parity at every level and a higher proportion of staff from BAME backgrounds at every level too.

The deadline for these changes is 2020, but progress is already under way.

Gender focused plans

As it stands, the gender split of IPA employees is almost exactly representative of the population as a whole. Women make up 50.9 per cent of the UK population and 50.4 per cent of IPA employees.

However, there is a disparity at certain levels and in certain roles, something Here for Good hopes to change.

Women make up 32.3 per cent of highest level employment in the IPA (CEO, MD etc) and in other high level positions (e.g. head of department), women take 38.6 per cent of jobs.

In creative agencies the proportion of women in higher positions goes down, and tends to be higher in media agencies.

The target is to get that number to at least 40 per cent by 2020.

Aiming for ethnic diversity

2016 started with a call for 15 per cent of all top jobs in IPA agencies to be taken up by candidates from BAME backgrounds.

Currently the percentage of BAME staff at a junior level is much higher than those in the top jobs. A little over 13 per cent of IPA staff come from BAME backgrounds, a figure that drops to just 8 per cent at the highest levels of employment (i.e. CEO, MD)

“13.1% BAME representation isn’t going to be good enough in the future and the fact that only 8% of the most senior people in our biggest agencies come from a non-white background concerns me,” said Knox as the targets were announced. “If we are to realise our goals, we need to do much more to promote the proven business case of diversity in leadership teams which will require us to come together as an industry and re-think our strategies.”

The last word

Says Tom Knox, President, IPA: “One of my key goals as IPA President is to attract and retain a talented and diverse workforce for the benefit of all. There is however a long way to go before we have achieved proportionate gender and ethnic diversity representation. By setting ourselves benchmarks we will be able to measure our collective progress in the future. The responsibility lies with all of us.”



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