LONDON: Over the past five years, the number of people working in media agencies has grown three times faster than that in creative agencies, reflecting the increasingly fragmented media landscape in which the advertising industry operates.

The 2015 Agency Census from UK agency trade body the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) reported overall employment growth of 1.9% last year, but while the employed base in creative and other non-media agencies declined by 0.7%, headcount in media agencies increased 6.4%.

The trend can also be seen over a longer period: between 2010 and 2015, the number of individuals employed in creative agencies increased by 12.5%, while the number working in media agencies surged ahead by 42.4%.

"It is always good to see overall numbers up, driven by media and its ever increasing remit," noted Paul Bainsfair, IPA Director General.

But he added that the figures for gender and ethnic diversity "could and should be better" and urged the industry to get behind the IPA's diversity targets and initiatives.

"Greater diversity creates stronger, more successful businesses," he said.

Women accounted for 27.3% of those at senior executive management level (Chair/CEO/Managing Director or Partner) and 37.6% of other executive management positions, up from 25.6% and 37.1% respectively in 2014.

Once again, media agencies were leading the way: women took 35.3% of senior positions here but only 23.8% in creative and other non-media agencies. These figures were slightly higher in the biggest agencies – those with a gross income above £20m or more than 200 employees – at 37.5% and 25.7% respectively.

There was only marginal movement in the proportion of employees coming from a non-white background, from 13.0% in 2014 to 13.1% in 2015.

Individuals from a black and minority ethnic background accounted for 12.5% of employees in creative and other non-media agencies and 14.2% of those in media agencies.

IPA figures released last week on ethnic diversity representation within the UK's biggest agencies highlighted the fact that just 8% of the most senior people there came from a non-white background.

That was a cause for concern, said Tom Knox, IPA President, who suggested the industry needed to rethink its strategies for promoting diversity in leadership teams.

Data sourced from IPA; additional content by Warc staff