One in four ad agencies has gender pay gap of at least 25%

Government data has shown the gap at some agencies has improved but at others it has significantly worsened.

The highest median gender pay gap for 2020-21 was 33%
The highest median gender pay gap for 2020-21 was 33%

One in four advertising agencies continues to have a high gender pay gap, indicating women are being paid lower salaries than men, the latest official data has shown.

Government data revealed that 13 out of 48 large ad agencies in England, Scotland and Wales that provided figures had a median pay gap – the difference in the midpoints of male and female pay ranges – of at least 25% in 2020-21.

The UK’s gender pay gap was 15.5% for 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Among agencies, the highest gap was 33% at The Brooklyn Brothers, while two advertising organisations reported having a median pay gap in favour of women – outdoor media owner JCDecaux (30.9%) and online gaming advertiser Mice and Dice (11.4%, although its average pay gap is 2.9% in favour of men).

Many employers have improved since 2018-19 – the last comparable year – with agencies including Havas, IPG DXTRA, Starcom and Wavemaker now having a median pay gap of 5% or lower.

But some have significantly worsened, including The Brooklyn Brothers (widening the gap by 16 percentage points) and Saatchi & Saatchi (nine percentage points).

The government requires all companies with more than 250 staff to report their figures annually, but mandatory reporting was suspended for 2019-20 due to Covid.

The data is based on employer payroll information, taken as a snapshot – this year on 31 March 2020 and 5 April 2020.

Publicis Groupe UK, which owns agencies including Zenith, Starcom, Saatchi & Saatchi and Digitas, plus Publicis Health, noted its UK leadership team had the same number of male and female leaders but acknowledged there were more men occupying the most senior roles overall.

The agency's chief executive Annette King said: "I firmly believe that as we emerge from the pandemic, we have a responsibility to build back better.

"We’ve made great strides forward in the past year in tackling inequalities that exist in our business, as they do across society. We have a long way to go but I’m confident we are on the right track."

Publicis Groupe yesterday released early figures for 2021, showing three of its agencies – Zenith, Saatchi & Saatchi and Digitas – have closed their median gender pay gap further. However, those at Publicis Health and Starcom have worsened, to 26.2% and 6.2%, respectively.

Jackie Stevenson, founder and global CEO of The Brooklyn Brothers, noted that the agency's smaller size meant it was not required to report its data to the government, but chose to do so because "it's incredibly important".

She said: "We were not where we wanted to be in April 2020 when the data published this week was submitted, but I’m pleased to say that since then, we have made great progress. Our management team is now 54% female and our agency 80% female, so our 2021-22 gap is 18% as you can see published on the government’s current pay gap website.

"We will not rest on our laurels as there is still more to do. We also encourage the rest of the industry to publish their figures and be open about their progress, so as a whole sector we can move forwards. The job isn’t done until we all reach parity, but I’m confident that we as an agency are going in the right direction.”


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