Universal, Sony and Warner on their gender pay gap figures and the next steps

Universal, Sony and Warner on their gender pay gap figures and the next steps

The major labels have reported their latest gender pay gap figures in the UK.

Following the October 5, 2021 deadline set by the government, Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music have each issued their figures based on a snapshot of April 5, 2020. 

Warner has also provided its latest figures and made a pledge to reach parity in senior roles by the end of 2025.

The majors have also provided a commentary on their gender pay gap progress.

There have been two previous years of reporting based on a snapshot in 2017 and 2018. The reporting deadlines for 2019/20 were not enforced because of the pandemic last year.

Universal Music UK

For 2020, the median gender pay gap is 25.3% and the mean (average) gender pay gap is 29.2%. In its previous figures for 2018, Universal’s median pay gap was 20.9% and its mean pay gap was 29.1%.

According to the latest figures for Universal, women occupy 26% of the highest paid jobs and 53% of the lowest paid jobs. 

Women’s median bonus pay is 57.2% lower than men’s, while mean bonus pay is 49.6% lower. The proportion receiving bonuses was similar - 80% of women and 79% of men.

Universal’s report was overseen by chief people, inclusion & culture officer Morna Cook (pictured), COO David Sharpe and Peter Wheeldon, SVP, people, inclusion & culture.

“At Universal Music we are proud of our efforts to create a team reflecting the diversity of our artist roster and broader society,” said the major. “We are making continued progress across every part of our business and remain confident that, while its complex causes will take time to address, we are on the path to eradicating our gender pay gap. It’s disappointing, then, that the headline figures in our latest gender pay gap report do not reflect greater improvement and seem at odds with our progress.”

The major outlined the following measures:

• Ongoing work to increase the diversity of future leaders, such as bespoke development programmes, family-friendly policies and coaching, which is supported by the UMTogether programme.

• Senior female executives now include the presidents or co-presidents of three of the six frontline record labels, the leaders of two of the biggest divisions – Abbey Road and Mercury Studios – and half of the UK company chairman’s senior executive management team.

• Universal has hired more women overall than men over the past three years, and in 2020/21 promoted a higher proportion of female staff.

• Staff in the UK will continue to take part in mandatory inclusion workshops which were first rolled out in 2019.

• Universal said it is building on the drive to proactively recruit more female A&Rs by launching an internal programme to encourage more existing female talent into A&R roles. “We are confident that over time this new programme – underpinned by bespoke mentoring and training – including support from Abbey Road Studios – will help our A&R teams better reflect the overall 50:50 gender splits in our frontline labels,” said Universal.

Sony Music UK

Sony Music did report its figures a year ago even though there was no legal requirement. Based on a 2019 snapshot, it had slipped back with a median pay gap of 9.1% and a mean pay gap of 26%.

A year on and the median gender pay gap for 2020 is down slightly to 8.7% and the mean gender pay gap is also down to 25.4%.

At Sony Music, women occupy 39% of the highest paid jobs and 56% of the lowest paid jobs.

The median bonus pay gap is 19.3% and the mean bonus pay gap is 50.4%. The figures show that 65.7% of women received a bonus, compared to 72.2% of men.

“At Sony Music we have a continual focus on improving our talent pipeline and supporting female leaders,” said the company. “This year’s figures show that we increased the number of women at our company last year, from 48% to 49%. Our gender pay gap (whether median or mean) has reduced, and our median gap is considerably lower than the national average of 15.5% (ONS). The bonus gap is partly because a higher number of women were hired during the year and are not yet bonus eligible.

“Our main progress was in recruiting and promoting women into management roles across several different departments. We also continue to have more women than men joining at entry level.

“Our UK workforce is relatively small so our numbers can fluctuate on a handful of joiners/leavers and this explains the slight reduction of women in the top pay band. Overall, there are still more senior men than women, but we are committed to supporting equal opportunities and rewarding women fairly.”

In its report overseen by CEO/chairman Jason Iley, COO Nicola Tuer and VP, human resources Liz Jeffery, Sony outlined measures it is taking.

• Building on the UK results of its global employee survey to develop ideas with staff that address key areas including career opportunities and supporting work/life balance.

• Developing a flexible working offer for when staff return to the office. The major offered parents one day of paid leave per week while schools and nurseries were closed.

• Sony has run “safe space” sessions to discuss intersectional topics that relate to staff, including on gender for women at all levels of the company. The findings are contributing to the launch of an enhanced mentoring offer.

• All Sony Music UK employees are receiving both mandatory inclusivity training and, with Mind, training on managing mental health issues in the workplace

• The UK Social Justice Fund, which is female-led, has supported Nao’s 3T programme and Milk Honey Bees, and the programmes are set to expand this year.

• Sony will continue to focus on supporting the development of staff through a broad range of talent and coaching programmes.

Warner Music UK

Warner Music also reported its figures last year and showed clear progress. For 2019, Warner Music UK’s median pay gap was down to 18.2%, while the mean pay gap had fallen to 31.5%.

In its figures for 2020, Warner reported a median gender pay gap of 14.5% and a mean pay gap of 30%.

The median bonus pay gap for 2020 was 37.9% and the mean bonus pay gap was 56.9%. The overwhelming majority of men (91%) received a bonus, compared to 80% of women.

The major has also opted to report its figures for 2021, which show the figures going up again - 36.7% mean pay gap and 17.8% median pay gap.

The 2021 mean bonus gap is 65.6% and the median bonus gap is 20.6%.

The report was signed by CEO Tony Harlow, along with Erica Bone,VP people team WMG and Dr Maurice Stinnett, global head of diversity, equity & inclusion.

“We have always known that our progress may not be linear and, when we delve into why, we can see that while women make up 50% of the overall WMUK population and we’re seeing an increase in the proportion of female hires in the lower quartiles, they continue to be underrepresented in the upper quartiles,” said Warner.

“While we have welcomed several women to senior leadership positions over the last two years, we have also seen several men be promoted or join the business at a senior level, including in newly created roles. While this has increased the diversity of our business in some ways, it has negatively impacted our gender pay gap in the short term. 

“However, through our continued partnership with the Women of Warner Employee Resource Group, which consists of over 200 people, we’ll continue to identify and invest in learning and development opportunities for female talent at WMUK.”

By the end of 2025, Warner has set a target to increase female representation in the combined senior and executive positions to 50%.

Warner highlighted four areas where it’s taking action:

• Developing talent through a reciprocal mentorship programme focused on groups underrepresented in leadership. The UK pilot programme launched in June 2021 and saw employees from underrepresented groups with two years or less service, paired with senior mentors.

• The major has worked closely with the UK Women of Warner ERG to explore development opportunities and support programming. In addition to making external coaches available to help groups meet their objectives, it has supported several events and workshops exploring the issues faced by women in the workplace, including women’s safety at work and allyship. Warner also helped facilitate a panel discussion around International Women’s Day hosted by Dotty, Apple Music’s lead cultural curator in Black music.

• In response to the challenge brought by Covid, Warner introduced the WMUK Work, Family and Household Support Guide, which provided those with caregiving demands, including working parents, with additional caregiving leave, one-off financial support, and access to bespoke resources, including coaching and curated digital learning content. 

• Since November 2021, Warner has introduced more than 30 new learning resources. It also introduced People Leadership Essentials training, a mandatory training programme for all managers, which covers topics such as psychological safety and addressing Unconscious Bias, helping to create a more inclusive leadership environment. 

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