Question 5: Will the industry truly tackle diversity?
A long overdue debate around diversity in the industry is taking place and is likely to gather apace this year. As reported, the recently published UK Music diversity survey is a wake up call, not only on gender but ethnicity, suggesting a deeply uneven sector to work in.
Ethnic minority representation in the market currently stands at 15.6% and the upper echelons of the industry remain male dominated, with women in 30% of senior executive roles despite holding 60% of intern roles and 59% of entry-level roles.
Entertainment Intelligence Director Sammy Andrews launched the ‘Lets be the change’ campaign last week. It will aim to promote diversity at music industry conferences by creating a directory of female music industry experts from across all areas of the market, which media and events organisers can tap into in order to boost the diversity of panels and speakers.
It will also encourage women who have never previously spoken at events to sign up, offering mentoring and guidance for those who are interested. There will be a tandem directory for ethnicity.
The initiative follows this blog from AIM’s Lara Baker about the challenges of programming a gender-balanced conference in the industry. Undoubtedly, such challenges exist- there are less women in senior positions across the industry and women can lack the confidence to participate and will default to suggesting a male colleague, despite being incredibly well informed
Chief Executive of PRSF Vanessa Reed commented on the launch, saying: “This is an essential resource that responds to the polite excuses I’ve heard on so many occasions that (a) “there aren’t any women that suit this panel’ or (b) “I’ve asked a woman but she turned the opportunity down”. Women and any minority groups that succeed in forging a career in music tend to be particularly brilliant and we need to hear their ideas and perspectives. I hope that this resource will inspire them to put themselves forward and that conference bookers use it to strengthen their programme and professional networks. After all, more diversity equals better business. It’s a fact.”
The BRITS has quite rightly been bashed for its lack of diversity but is at least responding, with the 2017 nominations showing more diversity and a decent coating of grime following an overhaul of the BRITS voting academy- albeit one that only increased the amount of BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) representation from 15% to 17%.
It goes beyond increasing the numbers and must become systemic-it’s not enough to shrug off a mainly male festival line-up due to ‘market forces’ or to rely on the usual voices (predominantly male) when booking a conference or industry event.
We must all search beyond our usual boundaries and networks, an additional advantage being that it will also stop conversations within the industry becoming stale, circular and male executive driven.
This is a key challenge for the industry in 2017 and we must all ensure that we do more and that equality becomes part of the mentality in planning activities, not simply a quota to meet.
To catch up on the previous big questions for the music industry in 2017, go here:
The Gen: our specially curated round-up of all the latest and greatest news, views, and events, keeping you in the loop!