2022 IPA Agency Census reveals accelerated growth in employment and diversity levels

Women in C-Suite positions and entry level execs from non-white backgrounds show significant growth while average employee age drops

By Creative Salon

On 28 February 2023 IPA published its 2022 Agency Census revealing 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. In addition, 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%, representing a considerable improvement in the pace of change year-on-year.   

According to the 2022 IPA Agency Census, now in its 63rd year, total employee numbers within IPA member agencies have recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic and, as of 1 September 2022, stand at 26,290. This is compared with 22,062 employees recorded in 2021, representing an increase in the size of the employed base of 19.2%.

Breaking this overall figure down by agency type, the number of employees in creative and other non-media agencies increased by 19.3%, from an estimated 12,278 in 2021, to 14,643 in 2022, while the number of employees in media agencies increased by 19.0%, from an estimated 9,784 in 2021, to 11,647 in 2022.

Additional key 2022 IPA Agency Census findings:

  • Number of women in IPA agencies increases by almost a quarter

The number of males employed in member agencies increased by 13.2%, from an estimated 10,403 in 2021 to 11,777 in 2022, while the number of female employees increased by 24,1%, 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.


  • Share of women in C-suite positions increases by 12% y-o-y   

Females occupied a 37.5% share of C-suite roles, up 12% from the 33.5% recorded in 2021.

Females occupied a 36.3% share of C-suite roles in creative and other non-media agencies, up 7% from 33.9% in 2021, and a 39.0% share in their media-agency counterparts, up by a considerable 19% from 32.8% in 2021.


  • Level of ethnic diversity in member agencies increases and share of individuals from a non-white background in C-suite jumps by 58%

The percentage of employees from a non-white background is estimated at 23.6%, up by almost a third (29% increase) on the 18.3% reported in 2021.

In terms of seniority, individuals from a non-white background account for 11.2% of employees in C-suite roles, up by a considerable 58% from the 7.1% reported in 2021.

Individuals from a non-white background occupy 33.3% of entry and junior-level roles, up from the 27.1% reported in 2021.

In media agencies, at junior and entry levels 36.7% of individuals are from a non-white background, up from 30.2% in 2021, while the equivalent figures in creative and other non-media agencies is 27.8%, up from 23.6% in 2021.


  • Gender and ethnicity pay gaps remain but the gender pay gap drops considerably   

Among those member agencies providing salary breakdowns by gender and seniority, a pay gap of 17.4% in favour of males exists although this is lower than the 23.3% recorded in 2021. At 21.1% (from 25.8% in 2021), the gender pay gap is considerably higher in creative and other non-media agencies than it is in media agencies, where it stands at 14.3% (from 18.9% in 2021).

Among those member agencies providing salary breakdowns by ethnicity and seniority, an ethnicity pay gap of 21.1% in favour of white employees exists. This is relatively unchanged from the 21.2% ethnicity pay gap recorded in 2021. At 22.5%, the differential is higher in media agencies (23.4% in 2021) than it is in creative and other non-media agencies, where it stands at 16.1% (15.3% in 2021).


  • Almost all agencies continue to use hybrid working models post Covid-19 pandemic   

Almost all agencies within IPA membership (96%) indicated that they were continuing to use 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%). Only 4% have adopted a full-time – everyone in all the time – approach, although this is up from 1.2% in 2021. Meanwhile, 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.


  • Average age of employees reduces marginally   

The average age of employees has reduced marginally from 34.6 years in 2021 to 34.4 years in 2022. 6.5% of employees are aged 50+, which remains unchanged year-on-year.


Paul Bainsfair, Director General, IPA says: “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. On which note, I’m pleased to highlight that our IPA Talent Conference is returning this April for the second year which will address the most vital challenges our industry faces today around talent recruitment, retention, and inclusion.”


Leila Siddiqi, Associate Director Diversity, IPA, says: “This year’s Census findings paint a hopeful, much improved snapshot of the industry. The pandemic and BLM have proved to be real catalysts, and provided priceless stimulus and purpose to people who were already frustrated at the slow rate of positive change in our industry. Now is the time to double down on our collective efforts by paying extra attention to the areas of fair pay, equal opportunity and creating inclusive, flexible workplace cultures which enable all underrepresented groups to thrive and reach their full potential.”


  • IPA initiatives, resources and training to improve diversity and inclusivity

To address and progress the levels of diversity and inclusivity within the agency community, the IPA has a full programme of initiatives, resources and training listed on its talent hub. Key highlights include the iList, its Stepping into the Spotlight series, its work with the UK UN Unstereotype Alliance, and its ‘A Future of Fairness’ report, as well as its work with the AA on the cross-industry, individual-focussed All In survey which takes place on 15 March. The IPA will also be hosting its Talent Conference on 19 April 2023.


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