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Jobs for the boys: Analysis shows less than 10% of agency start ups are female-led


2022 was a bumper year for the ad industry, according to data filed with Companies House data, but less so if you’re a woman.

Analysis by flexible workspace specialist Instant Offices has revealed that a massive 6,356 new ‘advertising agencies’ were registered with the government’s business data portal nationally in 2022, but less than 10 per cent were registered by women. 

Breaking that down by region, the main cities of the North saw 458 new agencies set up during the period, with just 31, or seven per cent, set up by women.

The research also found that the ratio fell year-on-year, despite the overall number of firms increasing. In 2021, 29 advertising agencies were launched in the Northern cities by women among a total of 244, meaning 12 per cent were led by females.

The figures were a little better across the Northern cities than in London, where 2,382 agencies were launched in 2022 but just 130 of them (five per cent) of them were run by women.

While the number of women in the industry generally has risen over recent years, the IPA – the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising – says women only get just over one third of executive jobs in the advertising industry.

John Williams, chief marketing officer at Instant Offices said: “Research shows that 54 per cent of small businesses, 64 per cent of medium ones and 59 per cent of large companies reported improved business outcomes when implementing initiatives to improve gender diversity. Studies have also shown women score higher than men in most leadership skills.”

Manchester saw the most agencies established among the cities studied, with 176 start ups, and 14, or eight per cent, led by women, while Blackpool fared best with two female-led agencies out of the 15 registered, or 13 per cent.

The cities analysed were Liverpool, Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, Hull, Newcastle, Sunderland, York and Blackpool, with Manchester (176) and Leeds (78) between them accounting for well over half of the total start ups.

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