'There is no silver bullet': PPL on tackling the gender pay gap

'There is no silver bullet': PPL on tackling the gender pay gap

PPL stands apart from many music companies in having achieved a gender pay gap that is actually in favour of women.

The major labels reported varying pay gaps, while Spotify, PRS For Music and Kobalt all pledged to improve their performance. As revealed in the latest issue of Music Week, there is widespread concern in the industry about the lack of women in senior roles. 

As well as two consecutive results showing a postive result on the gender pay gap, PPL also picked up the Company Award for Diversity in the Workplace at the Music Week Women In Music Awards last year.

Here, PPL CEO Peter Leathem and Kate Reilly, director of people and organisational development, explain how the industry can make the change...

Have you always been quite robust on the gender pay gap?

Peter Leathem: “I took over as the CEO seven years ago and prior to that I was MD, so I’ve had quite a long run at this whole area of management. The main objective was to have the best workforce that was going to deliver for PPL. In fact, from the outset I was quite keen on building a diverse team, because I do believe that having lots of different types of individuals actually adds to the overall delivery. So you have some who are good at strategy, some who are good at managing people, some who are good at process, some who are good at negotiating and so on. So I’ve always been a very big supporter of having a diverse set of people that have differing views, different approaches and you try and take the best of all that and make the company go forward. With the success we’ve had over recent years, it’s something that’s worked quite well for us.”

What’s your reaction to the overall figures?

PL: “One of the things that both myself and Kate did quite early on with UK Music was to recognise the success that PPL had had as a company in this area. So we were very keen to work with UK Music and look at their diversity approach to the broader industry to identify some of the benefits that can come from this. We’re just trying to share some of the things that we’ve done at PPL, and why we believe that’s been successful. UK Music and the whole team working around it have then tried try to look at joining up the industry and offering help and sharing some of those experiences.”

Is there a simple fix for companies to sort out their gender pay gap problem?

Kate Reilly: “There is no one silver bullet. It’s a multitude of things. It is creating that fair and inclusive environment, it’s providing fair opportunity, development opportunity for everybody. If you’re recruiting, make sure the net is as wide as possible. Also, how you train and develop people is just as important as providing fair opportunities.”

What would you say the key measures were?

PL: “The key measures are employing the right people for the right job. Our whole focus actually is on trying to drive the right outcome for PPL to collect more money, to pay more money out, to pay more performers and more record companies. Clearly, the way in which you recruit people and how you train and develop them, then leads to what your workforce looks like. I wouldn’t like to say that we’re driving targets. We’re trying to get the right balanced workforce in terms of the right skills to deliver for PPL. That’s naturally led us to a situation where we’ve got a reasonably diverse split across men and women in terms of the gender pay gap.”

How you train and develop people is just as important as providing fair opportunities

Kate Reilly

The UK Music Diversity Report shows a drop-off in women over 35 in the music industry. How have you avoided that?

PL: “We’re certainly of a size where we can accomodate people going on maternity leave and then coming back, and we have that happen all the time. I think that’s where you get into the way in which you’re just trying to provide people with the opportunity to come back and to take up their career again and to provide some level of flexibility around that. Flexible working is an important part of just allowing people to be able to come back and manage a family and manage their career as well.”

KR: “It’s also about creating an environment they want to come back to. We work very hard on our engagement approach to make sure we create the right culture. People want to return, which I think is just as important as us wanting to have them back.”

Are there more steps you’ve got planned or is it job done for PPL?

KR: “I wish! People are people, so I think you have to still apply the same levels of principle and discipline around that very consistent approach. and there’s always more things you can do and look at. We’re branching out to look at what work we can do with different universities and charities. The Apprenticeship Levy is a new one in the last few years we’ve had to look at. There are always things to look at but it still comes back to hiring the right person for the right role at the right time, and having a fair and consistent approach around that.” 

To read Music Week’s report on the gender pay gap, pick up the latest issue – or subscribers can click here. To subscribe and never miss a big industry story click here.

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