June 2, 2020 marked a seismic shift in the UK music industry, with the collective response to the #TheShowMustBePaused campaign.
It was a day on which the global music business united against racism, including all the major labels.
Last year, Music Week quizzed key executives on their plans to enact change in companies.
Twelve months on, we hear from the three UK major label CEOs – David Joseph, Jason Iley and Tony Harlow – on the progress made on diversity and equality…
David Joseph, chairman & CEO, Universal Music UK
“Today marks a year since Universal Music UK joined millions across the world for a day of reflection as part of The Show Must Be Paused, a collective moment like no other in my 25-plus years in the business. Emails stopped, Zooms were cancelled and we encouraged everyone to step away from work and to learn and connect in solidarity with our Black colleagues.
“A few days later we launched our UK Task Force for Meaningful Change, set up in partnership with UMG’s global Task Force to be a driving force for social justice and equity. We were clear. Action was needed and not just words.
“In partnership with the Task Force, inspirationally led by Afryea Henry-Fontaine (Motown), Fay Hoyte (EMI) and Jade Richardson (Island) as co-chairs, we launched mental health support sessions for our Black staff, a safe space for our Black artists to come together and the commissioning of Caerus Executive to carry out a full and comprehensive strategic review of Black, Asian and ethnic minority inclusion and progression within the business. Meanwhile, the launch of Abbey Road Studios’ music production scholarship programme targeting Black students has been incredibly popular and we are also delighted to have partnered with the Richard Antwi Scholarship scheme, which provides internships to Black and ethnic minority graduates.
We’ve reinforced our efforts to ensure our company truly reflects the diversity of our employees and artists
“By April 2021 the Task Force published their full manifesto which sets out further action our company will be taking to help bring about meaningful change here in the UK both internally and in our wider society.
“The manifesto, which was created in consultation with the wider business including a virtual town hall event, has five key areas: boosting outreach work to help attract more Black candidates for roles at Universal Music; driving internal change through mentorship initiatives; celebrating Black culture with the launch of The Black Calendar; supporting external education initiatives; and building a unique infrastructure of support for Universal Music UK’s Black artists.
“While we have already made a number of positive changes, I am clear that there is still much to do. This week, we held a session on allyship and education to give all of our people an opportunity to come together and reflect on the past year.
“Thanks to the work of our Task Force and with the support of senior management, Universal Music UK has a robust and practical plan that delivers both accountability and a plan for real ongoing change.”
Jason Iley, chairman and CEO, Sony Music UK & Ireland
“It’s been a challenging year on many fronts where we have witnessed the very worst of society in relation to race and injustice. Sony Music made a commitment to challenge systemic problems and injustices and to lead from the front to work towards meaningful and long-term change.
“Our UK Social Justice Fund team have funded 13 organisations so far, covering education, rehabilitation, training and the provision of youth and mental health services in communities across Britain. That commitment goes beyond pure financial support, and we have also worked closely with them to provide additional mentorship, support and employment opportunities.
We are continuing to learn and make progress
“We’ve reinforced our efforts to ensure our company truly reflects the diversity of our employees and artists and we have redoubled our efforts on equity and inclusion, including compulsory inclusivity training for all staff. We are also looking at representation in our external suppliers. We want to be a company where honest conversations can occur more often.
“The truth is that we can never do enough, but we are continuing to learn and make progress and I believe that by working together and supporting each other we will get further, faster.”
The leaders of the UK arm of Sony Music’s Global Justice Fund – including director of diversity, inclusion & Social Impact Charlotte Edgeworth, along with senior execs Dorothy Hui and Damaris Rex Taylor – explain more about its development and progress so far here.
Tony Harlow, CEO, Warner Music UK
“At Warner Music, having a truly diverse, equitable and inclusive company is, after delivering for our artists, our most important priority. It will stay that way until we can confidently look at our workplace and know that it better reflects the world we live in and that each of our employees feels able to be themselves and excel.
“WMUK started on the current phase of its DEI [Diversity, Equity & inclusion] journey three years ago, and we’re proud of the considerable progress that we’ve made during this time. Without a doubt, Black Out Tuesday added an urgency and momentum to our work, and that’s something we embraced. In November, we road-mapped the actions we’d be taking, including publishing our five-year stretch targets, in our first internal WMUK DEI report. As part of this, we relooked at things like our training, development and recruitment processes and introduced initiatives like a reciprocal mentoring programme. We also looked at how best to use data to track our progress and explored what more we could be doing in our community.
For change to be meaningful and lasting, we all need to remain utterly committed
“In tandem, over the last year, Warner Music Group has welcomed Dr Maurice Stinnett as its first global head of DEI. He’s not only helped guide our agenda, but he’s taken learnings from the UK and used them to shape the global plan, which is something we’re proud of. Among other global initiatives, he’s set up a WMG Global DEI Institute with programming to support all employees from underrepresented communities, and the UK will be proud to be a part of this. We’re also pleased to have Austin Daboh represent the UK on the advisory panel for the Warner Music Group/Blavatnik Family Foundation Social Justice Fund, and to see that the first significant donation made outside the US was to the UK’s Black Cultural Archives.
“While we’re pleased with the pace of our progress over the last 12 months, we’re all very aware that there is much more to be done, and we consider ourselves fortunate to have the complete backing of the WMG senior management in prioritising this. For change to be meaningful and lasting, we all need to remain utterly committed to making it happen, and we are.”
Subscribers can click here to read our interview with the Black Music Coalition steering committee.