AKQA London 2017 Gender Pay Gap Report

The UK Government has introduced Gender Pay Gap transparency regulations designed to encourage major employers to take action to close the gap. An estimated 9,000 UK employers across the public and private sectors are required to report their gender pay gap information. The new requirements came into effect in April 2017. The gender pay gap is the measure that shows the difference between the average earnings of men and women, and is expressed as a percentage of men's earnings. It does not show differences in pay for comparable roles at specific grades, but is used as a broad measure of earnings across the organisation. We published our data at the same time as all WPP Group companies, and we have included supplementary information from our most recent available data.

This report for AKQA London:

Gender pay calculations

The gender pay gap is expressed in two ways:


Median pay is the middle/midpoint value when all hourly rates are listed from lowest to highest value. The median pay gap is the difference in the middle hourly rate of pay by gender. The median hourly rate is less likely than the average to be impacted by the most senior, highest earners.


Mean pay is the average hourly rate. The mean pay gap is the difference in the average hourly rate of pay by gender.

AKQA London gender pay gap data

Median pay gap

Mean pay gap

Our April 2017 pay gap data does not indicate that men and women are being paid differently for equal work. The data shows there is a lower representation of women in senior leadership positions, which attract higher levels of pay and have a bonus associated with them.

Our February 2018 data highlights the equal representation progress we have made since April 2017. Our ongoing actions and initiatives will ensure that we maintain this progress.

AKQA London bonus gap

Who received bonus pay

Median and mean bonus gap


Median bonus gap


Mean bonus gap

Bonus payments for 2018 have not been awarded yet.

Our analysis shows our gender pay gap is driven by the fact that there are more men in senior and higher-paid roles within the business. These are also the roles that have a bonus associated with them.


This is a list of AKQA London employees’ hourly pay ordered from lowest to highest, in each quartile pay band. The list is then divided into four equal groups.

Lower pay quartile

Lower middle pay quartile

Upper middle pay quartile

Upper pay quartile

Progress from April 2017 to February 2018

  • Our median pay gap now stands below the national average, and we are confident that our initiatives, continuous development and further learnings across the company will help us to reduce our gender pay gap further.
  • While our most recent February 2018 data highlights encouraging progress made during the ten months since April 2017, we recognise and accept we have more to learn, continuous work to do, and much further to go.
  • A particular emphasis has been placed on increasing the representation of women at senior level positions and to address any imbalance.
  • We have improved our diversity of recruitment and ensured greater representation of women in our talent programmes to help close this gap.
AKQA London gender balance

AKQA London - All Employees

AKQA London - Management Team

How we made progress from April 2017 to Feb 2018:

Gender balance

We have introduced progressive new recruitment partners and implemented mandated diversity in our hiring shortlists. Parity achieved in recruitment will also lead to increased parity at the most senior levels.

More women in senior and leadership roles

Through new appointments and promotions, we have increased the visibility and number of women in senior and leadership roles.

Informed actions

A series of concrete, continuous systems and initiatives included focused training for all our teams that actively addresses the gender pay gap issue, encourages diversity, raises awareness and will help us to make ongoing progress (described in detail below).

Closing the gap further

We have a complete commitment to equality and to make sure our policies and practices are fair. In addition to our statutory obligations, the actions and initiatives that will enable us to make further progress include:

Attracting talent

Gender-balanced shortlist of candidates

By the time we reach shortlist stage in the recruitment process there is a mandated gender-diverse pool of talent.

Diverse interview panels

All candidates going through the hiring process at AKQA meet with diverse interview panels. Interviewing can be subjective, with people tending to hire candidates like themselves. Evaluators with multiple perspectives can help check the unconscious bias of any individual.

Gender-neutral job descriptions

We use the augmented writing platform Textio to ensure that all AKQA job descriptions are gender-neutral and attract diverse talent.

Recruitment partnerships with specialists that champion diversity

AKQA has formed a partnership with The Dots, a professional networking platform with over 200,000 members: 61%+ of The Dots community are female, 31% are BAME, and 16% are LGBT.


Partnering with Creative Pioneers, the IPA-endorsed apprenticeships provider, to launch an apprenticeship scheme in 2018.


A number of vacancies in 2018 will be promoted as ‘Returnships’, with the aim of hiring experienced professionals who have taken an extended career break, thus accessing a high-calibre and diverse talent pool.

Diversity, fair pay and benefits

Equal pay

Employers are under a legal obligation to offer equal pay. Twice a year, we have a formal and rigorous process to review pay to ensure that men and women with the same experience and performance in equivalent roles are paid equally and accurately. We also carry out benchmarking comparisons with other WPP Group companies.

Maternity and shared parental leave

We have enhanced our Maternity/Shared Parental Leave packages. Employees with five years of service now receive six months’ full pay while on paternity leave. We also offer a returners' bonus to encourage maternity returners back into the workplace.

Diversity and inclusion council

Launched in 2017 and made up of 15 voluntary employers, the Diversity and Inclusion Council runs focus groups with employees to gain insights to inform our D&I strategy, roadmap and subsequent initiatives.

Flexible working

Subject to client and business requirements, employees can request flexible working arrangements. Where they can be managed within the company, these include a variety of options such as home-working, part-time working, and alternative arrangements of working hours.

Awareness, training and development

Visible leadership

We actively highlight women role models, raising awareness in communications and events, and encouraging women to progress into leadership roles while removing barriers that may hinder.

Progression programme

Investing in a talent pipeline that continually supports people to maximise their potential and excel at work. Each cohort is made up of 12 high-potential males and females, with at least 75% of attendees being female. The programme guarantees a commitment from AKQA to provide the necessary senior exposure, support and training to ensure every opportunity is given to help our top female talent become future leaders at AKQA.

Recruitment training

Identifying and avoiding unconscious bias throughout the hiring lifecycle: from reviewing CVs through to assessment and selection.

Unconscious bias training

Helping employees identify how they can build a more diverse and inclusive workplace by gaining awareness of their own internal biases, how these can influence decision-making, and what inclusive behaviours look like.

Employee engagement platform and annual employee survey

We have a real-time web-based employee engagement platform that conducts regular surveys to measure satisfaction (at least weekly). The platform generates wellbeing and equality information and engagement drivers. Together with our annual employee survey, the engagement platform requests gender information to provide a safe environment in which women's voices can be heard, and helps us identify whether there are any equality or other issues that need to be explored.

Women's network

Our Women’s Network organises informal meetings for peer support and networking opportunities within AKQA and WPP Group companies. It also provides a forum for advocacy of practices, policies and issues that impact women. Inspiring, educational events organised by the Women's Network include an International Women's Day panel featuring leaders in their fields, and participation with The 3% Conference in the USA.

Plans for the future

The Government’s Gender Pay Gap regulations are a welcome and important step towards encouraging the transparency and measurement we support. We are committed to initiatives that improve how we attract, engage and advance women, as well as other under-represented groups.

Every quarter we monitor our UK team’s gender and diversity data. We review new hires, promotions and leavers, together with performance ratings and succession plans across departments and disciplines. This helps us to identify any barriers such as unconscious bias, provide education to line managers, and take action.

We aim to ensure that all of our employees are treated equally at work, with access to the same opportunities for career development, reward and recognition. We have made progress in the last ten months, and aim to make year-on-year improvements by implementing our initiatives and concentrating on equal gender representation.

We value the many benefits diversity brings, knowing it is vital to our ability to be an employer of choice, to provide meaningful careers for our people and ensure our clients have the best solutions. We are committed to fostering a varied and inclusive work environment, aspiring to provide our employees with the canvas, tools and confidence to help advance their careers, and will continue to make progress towards this goal.

I confirm that the information in this report is accurate and prepared in accordance with the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017

Sam Kelly
Managing Director, London