“We Can All Play Our Part” Says Head Of Diversity As Industry Celebrates International Women’s Day

UK Music’s Head of Diversity Rachel Bolland looks at what the music industry is doing to support gender equality.

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06/03/2020: Music’s Head of Diversity Rachel Bolland looks at what the music industry is doing to support gender equality.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #EachForEqual, which encourages us all to look at how we can make an impact on our wider society.

In my role as Head of Diversity at UK Music I’m interested in what the music industry is doing to support women and I’m glad to say over the past 12 months there have been some fantastic projects.

PRS Foundation’s Keychange has been a ground-breaking project in encouraging representation and opportunity for female performers with their 50:50 gender balance by 2022 pledge for festivals, which they have now expanded to include all music organisations. PRS Foundation also run their Women Make Music fund, which supports women, trans and non-binary artists.

The Musicians’ Union (MU) have been doing important work around sexual harassment in the workplace. It’s an issue that affects everyone, including men, but it’s disproportionally a problem for women.

The MU surveyed their members about their experiences of sexual harassment at work and the results were illuminating. 48% of the 724 respondents said that they had experienced sexual harassment at work, while 58% said they had witnessed sexual harassment at work.

The discovery that 61% believed freelancers are at higher risk of being sexually harassed while working led to their Protect Freelancers Too campaign. They are calling on the Government to strengthen the law to prevent sexual harassment at work before it happens and include strong protections for freelancers in all new laws to prevent sexual harassment at work.

They also continue to run MU Safe Space, which is a way for all musicians and those working in the music industry to share instances of sexism, sexual harassment and sexual abuse at work.

Coldplay producer and MPG’s Executive Director Olga FitzRoy has continued to campaign for an update to the shared parental leave and pay rules to include self-employed parents.

The current system of Maternity Allowance for the self-employed places the entire burden of childcare onto the mother and offers no financial support for self-employed fathers or same-sex partners wanting to share some or all of the childcare. This inflexible system perpetuates gender-stereotypes and is holding back equality in the music industry, where around 72% of all workers are self-employed. UK Music supported the campaign, taking it to party conferences, with a series of panels, gaining cross-party support.

We continue to work on diversity issues with our Diversity Taskforce. Established in 2015 the Taskforce brings people from across music together to work with businesses, Government and other stakeholders to boost inclusion and diversity across the industry.

Looking forward to this year we will be releasing our Diversity Report.Launched in 2016, the aim of the report is to track progress within the industry. The last report gave a revealing insight into the positive direction the music industry was moving but also showed where more work is needed. The data revealed that the proportion of women working in the music industry rose from 45.3% in 2016 to 49.1% in 2018, while the percentage of young women (aged 16 to 24) in the industry was up from 54.6% in 2016 to 65.3% in 2018.

However, our survey did show that there is a lower representation of females aged 35 and above compared to the younger age groups. It will be interesting to find out the results of this year’s Diversity Survey, which also looks at ethnicity. We hope to shine the light on some examples of best practice in the Diversity Report, as well as taking an analytical look at the data. For this report to have an impact we need as many people as possible to contribute to the survey. The more data we have the more we can build an accurate picture of the industry. It’s something small that you can do to help make a bigger impact.

There is obviously still lots of work to be done to make the industry gender equal, especially for Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority, LGBTQ women and those with disabilities, but all these projects, and many more I haven’t mentioned, such as Association for Electronic Music’s support service and organisations like Parents and Carers in Performing Arts (PIPA) and, are incredibly inspiring. Watching them lead the way reminds me that we can all play our part.

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