UK Music's Ammo Talwar on the diversity survey results and how the industry can change

UK Music's Ammo Talwar on the diversity survey results and how the industry can change

UK Music has revealed the findings of its 2020 Workforce Diversity Survey in its UK Music Diversity Report.

In an exclusive Music Week interview in the latest edition, UK Music Diversity Taskforce chair Ammo Talwar opens up about the results and calls on the industry to do more.

UK Music has today unveiled a 10-point plan for the industry based on its survey.

“It’s a collaborative, co-designed plan where we want to work with labels, trade bodies, the music industry and just say, ‘Let's do it together’ and put together a clear roadmap for making sure that diversity sits front and centre,” Talwar told Music Week.

“It's definitely not a kneejerk reaction, it's something that we look at and we assess. We really wanted to make sure that whatever we did, it was reflective of those voices and not pulling any punches.”

Since its launch in 2016, the survey tracks progress to boost diversity and inclusion in the UK’s music industry that contributes £5.2 billion a year to the UK economy and sustains 190,000 jobs. 

Among the key findings of the 2020 Music Industry Workforce Diversity Survey are:

  • Representation of Black, Asian and other ethnic minorities among those aged 16-24 in the music industry stands at a record 30.6% - up from 25.9% in 2018.
  • Proportion of women increases from 45.3% in 2016 to new high of 49.6% in 2020.
  • Number of people from Black, Asian and other ethnic minority communities at entry-level rises from 23.2% in 2018 to new high of 34.6% in 2020.
  • Number of women in the 45-64 age group drops from 38.7% in 2018 to 35% in 2020.
  • Representation of Black, Asian and other ethnic minorities at senior executive levels rises from 17.9% in 2018 to 19.9%.

“Representation of diverse communities has improved and representation of women is up,” said Talwar. “But, despite these improvements, we've got to do more. It's not moving at the pace that we need it to move at, there needs to be some intervention in parts of the music ecosystem.”

The survey findings from UK Music come in the wake of a year of action, triggered by the death of George Floyd and the protests in support of Black Lives Matter.  

The music industry reacted with initiatives including Black Out Tuesday. The survey results will also inform industry initiatives to build on the work that followed the #MeToo campaign to highlight sexual abuse and harassment. 

The survey collates data from across the music business including studios, management agencies, music publishers, major and independent record labels, music licensing companies and the live music sector.

The need for faster change has driven the creation of UK Music’s Diversity Taskforce’s 10-point plan (see below), led by Talwar and deputy chair Paulette Long.

This year, a record 3,670 people working in the music industry took part in UK Music’s survey.

It's not moving at the pace that we need it to move at

Ammo Talwar

Ammo Talwar said: “Against a backdrop of global change the Diversity Taskforce has been carefully listening, challenging and working behind the scenes to help shape a transformational and game-changing 10-point plan.

“This plan is data-driven, evidence-based with metrics and lived experience. It’s the accumulation of nine months’ work across the whole music industry to support yet hold the industry to account. No tokenistic statements, no short-term wins but a truly collaborative long term plan that reboots the sector and ensures diversity is front and centre of all major decisions.” 

UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said: “As an industry, we are united in our determination to lead the way on improving diversity and inclusion in our sector and across society.

“This report consists of a frank and candid analysis of the current situation our industry faces, and a bold and ambitious 10-point plan for how to achieve the positive change we all want to see. It’s relevant not just to the music industry, but to organisations everywhere. 

“If our music industry is to tell the story of modern-day Britain, then it needs to look like modern-day Britain too. This ground-breaking report is an important step towards achieving that.”

UK Music head of diversity Rachel Bolland said: “We have listened to diverse communities and worked with the Diversity Taskforce to change our language and approach to the Diversity Report and have produced our most comprehensive report to date.

“Focus groups allowed us to listen to the lived experiences of people in our industry and helped to frame the survey questions and the content of the report. We are committed to listening and adapting moving forward.” 

UK Music Taskforce Deputy Chair Paulette Long said: “The last four-and-a-half years has seen our Diversity Taskforce lead the way with a survey giving evidence of issues that needed highlighting, and introducing a 10-point plan to address and rectify some of the underlying obstacles.

“It’s good to see industry organisations review and reset imbalances on their boards, but I am still wary of ‘knee jerk’ reactions and want to task industry gatekeepers to look towards making long lasting systemic changes. Let us resolve to never turn back.”

The BPI has welcomed the survey and 10-point plan.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive BPI, BRIT Awards & Mercury Prize, said: “We promoted this survey strongly to our membership, since it shines a powerful light on whether progress is being made promoting equality of opportunity and inclusion in labels, and right across our industry. While there is some good news to welcome, in particular it is clear that we have more to do to ensure proportionate representation of women and executives of colour at the most senior levels. The BPI has signed up to the 10-point plan so that, working together, our industry can deliver lasting and meaningful change.” 

Ged Doherty, BPI chairman and co-chair of the BPI Equality and Justice Advisory Group, said: “The Diversity Survey, just like our own work to refresh The BRITs Voting Academy in 2016, shows how vitally important data is to the process of change – enabling you to better identify and understand what needs to be fixed and then tracking any progress against this. But that’s only half the story – you then need a clear plan of action to address what the data is telling you, and the 10 Point Plan does that.”

“We are proud to live in a richly diverse country and to work in a sector built upon cultural collaboration. However, that history is not reflected in our workforce and our community lacks the inclusivity of its heritage,” said Robero Neri, MPA chair. “UK Music’s 10-point plan is a commitment toward our collective work to change that. Together, we must be unafraid to address inequality and discrimination in all forms and to give equal voice, visibility and authority to our black and minority ethnic colleagues. We at the MPA are already working to deliver change and leadership and we encourage all parts of the music industry to join us in this pledge.”

The 10-point plan is outlined below:

  • Urban classification to be replaced in all reports and communications - either by genre such as soul or rap; UK Music members will commit to support those who wish to use the term “black music”. Members to stop using the acronym BAME - use Black, Asian or ethnic minority background rather than acronym.
  • UK Music members to compile a database of persons accountable and responsible for diversity across organisation.
  • UK Music members to commit and spend an allocated amount of their annual recruitment budget to ensure a diverse candidate pool.
  • UK Music members to allocate a certain amount of their annual training budget on a 12-month diversity Continuing Professional Development / training programme to ensure fair career opportunities for all.
  • UK Music members to allocate budget and implement a programme to increase diverse representation in middle and senior management.
  • UK Music members to help UK Music implement better transparency around gender and ethnic pay gap - move towards lower reporting rate of 50+ employees.
  • Each UK Music member to identify a socially engaged organisation whose work relates to gender or race whom they can invest in on a long term basis.
  • Each UK Music member to develop diversity policies and internally set diversity targets for core staff. Targets to be published and reported to UK Music and updated annually in order to assess progress. Member bodies to promote diversity and inclusion to partners and stakeholders ensuring industry standards are met.
  • UK Music members to amplify their work with UK Music Diversity Taskforce to increase the response rate and ultimately the data collected in the Biennial UK Music Workforce. Diversity Survey with both their own employees and membership. Aim to have 80% of core staff respond to next survey.
  • Each UK Music members to work towards increasing diversity on its executive bodies and boards - 30% diverse (race) and 50% (gender). Progress towards these goals is to be reported to UK Music as part of annual progress audit. 

The 10-point plan was devised following widespread consultation by members of the UK Music Taskforce with stakeholders right across the music industry, as well as an analysis of the survey data. A series of focus groups were also held to gauge opinion.

Subscribers can read the exclusive interview with Ammo Talwar here

* To make sure you can access Music Week wherever you are, subscribe to our digital issue by clicking here.


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