LONDON: Some 12% of agency staff in 2016 came from a black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) background, according to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), which called on agencies to do more to improve their ethnic diversity targets.

Based on responses from 91 agencies and working in association with Campaign magazine, the IPA said last year's figure was down from the 13.1% recorded in 2015, although it cautioned that last year's results involved a smaller sample of just the 31 biggest agencies.

Overall, the long-term data has shown a positive upward trend up from 6.1% in 2007, but the IPA noted that, although BAME representation is improving, this tends to be happening at more junior levels.

At the most junior level, such as executive or assistant, BAME representation stood at 15%, but just 4.7% within the C-suite and 5.5% within other senior executive management roles.

According to the survey findings, creative agencies have a higher proportion of BAME staff at the Chair, CEO and MD level (5.3%) and Other executive management level (6%) than at media agencies (3.1% and 4.5% respectively).

On the other hand, media agencies have a higher proportion of BAME employees at the junior level (17.5%) than creative agencies (12.4%), the survey found.

The IPA's findings represent the second part of its annual diversity survey and follow publication last week of its survey about gender equality.

Taken together, the IPA is calling on agencies to work harder to ensure senior positions include 15% of BAME representation by 2020 as well as 40% of women.

"Diversity of thought leads to greater innovation, creativity and financial returns, as well as increased staff motivation and retention," said IPA President Tom Knox.

"So, while I am pleased that this survey has played a part in raising ethnic diversity up the agenda of agency leadership teams, the crucial part now is for our agencies to take action," he added.

To learn more about diversity, access these free reports on how Kimberly-Clark and Coca Cola approach multicultural marketing.

Data sourced from IPA; additional content by Warc staff