ISM releases report on discriminatory behaviour in music

ISM releases report on discriminatory behaviour in music

A new report by the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) has highlighted issues around discrimination and inappropriate behaviour in the music business.

ISM, the UK’s fastest growing professional body for musicians, received more than 250 responses after asking members to share their personal experiences anonymously and offer suggestions on how to improve the culture and conditions.

The interim report sets out a series of recommendations and calls for a change in culture across the sector and is an analysis of data the body received through anonymous responses to the survey, which was launched in November.

Some 59.61% of respondents stated that they had experienced discrimination, including sexual harassment or inappropriate behaviour in the course of their work as a professional musician - 71.71% of these respondents identified as female, 17.1% as male, 0.66% as transgender and 10.53% did not disclose their gender. Almost 65% of respondents who had experienced discrimination reported that they had been subject to sexual harassment. Some 72% of respondents were self-employed, and 77% did not report their experiences. 

"The results of this survey have revealed a pattern of discriminatory behaviour in a broad range of workplaces, said ISM CEO Deborah Annetts. "What is particularly troubling is the extent of sexual harassment within the music sector: almost 65% of respondents who had experienced discrimination reported that they had been subject to sexual harassment. 72% of these respondents who answered regarding their employment status were self-employed.

"Seventy-seven per cent of these respondents did not report their experiences, with fear of losing work far outweighing any other reason for not doing so. This fear was not limited to just sexual harassment but a common theme across all types of discriminations as the survey results highlight.

"The ISM is calling for a change in the culture across the whole of the music sector, starting in educational settings, from schools up to and including music colleges. There needs to be absolute clarity as to what is acceptable behaviour as well as the structures to support musicians in their work so that they can report their concerns without fear of retribution or judgement.

"To ensure that all musicians understand what their rights and duties are there needs to be comprehensive training and education. And we believe that all the above needs to be underpinned by a sector wide code which is recognised by all who work in the music sector.

"We do not underestimate the gravity of the problem which the ISM survey has uncovered and the extent of the work which needs to be done. We do however believe that by working together, the music sector can tackle these grave issues and make the workplace a place where musicians can work without experiencing discrimination of any kind."

The survey remains open for responses here.


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