We should all work together to create a more inclusive music industry – UK Music’s Felicity Oliver

The British music industry has made good progress in recent years, but reaching gender parity is key to building on the successes already achieved.

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#Balanceforbetter is the campaign call for this year’s International Women’s Day, calling on people and businesses across the globe to step up and create a more gender balanced world.  The British music industry has made good progress in recent years, but reaching gender parity is key to building on the successes already achieved.   For too long the music industry, like many other sectors, has been dominated by men, especially in senior positions.

Being a woman should not act as a barrier to achieving your goals. It shouldn’t be a threat to your success, undermine your voice being heard or act as an impediment to opportunities for promotion. The skills and attributes unique to being a woman must be championed and celebrated. A diverse workforce is a better workforce. Attracting more women to the music industry and more importantly opening channels to allow them to stay in the music industry makes economic sense, as well as sheer common sense.

The UK Music Diversity Taskforce, chaired by Keith Harris, undertook the first industry-wide workforce diversity survey in 2016. This went beyond the anecdotal evidence and showed a snapshot into the workforce demographic. Put simply, it showed that women did not stay in the music industry.

It challenges companies throughout industry to examine their own practices and question why the number of women drops so dramatically after a certain age.  Are they instituting family friendly employment practices? Making it easier for working mothers to attend gigs and events in the evening that are essential for finding new acts and networking?  Are they doing enough to eradicate the cultures that can make women feel unwelcome in certain areas of the industry, and lead to them leaving the sector for good?

It is not enough to recognise the existence of a problem, we need to look at why it exists and what can be done to affect real, lasting change.  Employers must give women the tools required to open up equal opportunities and empower them to remain working in the industry with confidence.

The introduction of gender pay gap reporting last April further shone a light over the injustice of pay between men and women across many industries, including music. This greater transparency alongside positive action and a passion to instigate change from within industry is starting to take effect.

Last year, UK Music reported on the 2018 survey results. Importantly, 49.3 per cent of survey respondents in the industry identified as female, and it was heartening to see 10.7 percentage point increase in females aged 16-24 from 2016. While there were also welcome increases across older female age groups, the data was clear – there is still have a long way to go to achieve gender parity across the career spectrum.

We must continue to beat the drum for women everywhere, every day, and reinforce the message that industry must be reflective of societal make up in every stage of the career ladder. I’ve never felt more pride in my gender than looking across the room at the inspirational winners at last year’s Women in Music Awards displaying the best of what women can achieve in music.  I am confident that together, this International Women’s Day, we can create a more inclusive industry with a #BalanceforBetter for 2019 and beyond.

Record of the Day

* Felicity Oliver is UK Music’s Head of Parliamentary Affairs, Events & Diversity

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