Gender pay gap remains at 3% in 2021 MFA Census

The Media Federation of Australia 2021 industry census was published this morning, completed by all MFA member agencies in September 2021.

The findings reported media agencies employee numbers rose in 2021 by 19.1%, with 4,412 people now employed in the media agency space across Australia. The MFA said this is higher than any figure previously recorded.

Despite the increase, the industry also reported high vacancy rates of 12%, double the “normal levels”, according to the industry body. Last year, the MFA census found 3,703 people were employed by media agencies in 2020, down from 3,902 in 2019, prior to the pandemic.

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Women in the industry occupy 43% of management roles, which fell by one percent since 2020. However, the number remains disproportionate as women occupy 61% of total roles in media agencies. The gender pay gap remained at 3% this year, no change on 2020. The MFA reports that this is above the Australian average of 14%.

Last year the 3% pay gap was reported in the Census, after the pay gap was 0% in 2019. The MFA put the emergence of the figure down to the “the concentration of men in SEO, strategy, and creative services roles”.

As reported in late 2021, the number of women in management roles within the industry remains higher than the Australian workforce average of 32.5%.

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Director of people at the MFA, Linda Wong said: “The initial contraction in the media agency population in response to the Covid-19 pandemic is well behind us, with the biggest growth in population ever recorded by the MFA Census in 20-plus years of measurement.”

“The pressing challenge for the industry now is the lack of talent to fill positions, compounded by the global talent shortage. In 2022, I expect our industry’s focus to remain on recruitment and retention, and ensuring all new recruits are supported to thrive and grow.”

MFA CEO Sophie Madden

MFA CEO Sophie Madden said that the Census is an important and accurate snapshot of the health of media agencies, and that the body is happy to see the industry tracking “well after two particularly challenging years”.

“The Census reinforces the severity of the global talent shortage, but I am confident we can work together to address this pressing issue through training and development and supporting our people, and improved ways of working.”

Employees with less than five years of experience now make up 45% of the industry, with 27% having six to ten years and 15% have 11 to 15 years of experience. The rise in employees with under five years industry experience comes after a temporary pause in hiring entry-level staff in the first year of the pandemic.

The overall average industry experience declined as a result, to 8.2 years, from 8.7 in 2020, while the average agency tenure sits at 3.6.

Sydney remains the key market for media agencies, with 56.6% of the industry located in the nation’s largest market, followed by 29% in Melbourne.


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