Updated: UK Music launches diversity survey as execs call for biz to make faster progress

UK Music

A host of senior UK music industry executives have backed the new UK Music diversity survey.

UK Music’s diversity taskforce chair Ammo Talwar MBE launched the survey on Tuesday with a call for the industry to embrace “major change at pace”.

And the importance of music companies responding has been stressed by execs from across the industry.

"Continuing to improve diversity and inclusion across our teams is a priority for us at Universal Music UK," said Universal Music UK chairman/CEO David Joseph. "We’ve long held the view that this is not just the right thing to do, but that it makes business sense - a diverse team drives fresh thinking, innovation and creativity, all of which are integral to delivering for our artists."

"We have a duty to our employees and to the music creators we represent to instigate change, to nurture an inclusive environment, and to build an organisation that upholds the same values we want to live by," said PRS For Music CEO Andrea C Martin. "The Workforce Diversity Survey is a much-needed initiative and catalyst for change, and we urge you to take part."

"Music is such a vibrant and diverse art form, which has an unparalleled ability to unite people and a huge cultural impact," said Jason Iley, Sony Music UK chairman/CEO. "To thrive, our industry must reflect the diversity of artists and listeners and we have a duty to support and develop our executives at every level. We can all listen more, learn more and commit to doing better. At Sony Music UK we are taking meaningful steps toward lasting change, informed by our employee group HUE, which stands for Helping Unite Everyone."

"For Warner Music, building an inclusive culture, where all our talent can shine, is key to driving our success," said Nina Bhagwat, head of inclusion & diversity at Warner Music UK. "We know innovation, and innovators, thrive in a culture that embraces diversity of thought and true representation. Having great data is key to moving the dial on inclusion and diversity. What gets measured, gets done."

Others calling for support for the survey include the MMF's Annabella Coldrick, the Ivors Academy's Crispin Hunt, the BPI's Geoff Taylor and UK Music's own Tom Watson, amongst many others.

The survey tracks progress on boosting diversity and inclusion in the music biz and coincides with the huge momentum for change generated by Black Out Tuesday and the #TheShowMustBePaused initiative.

“Now is not the time for silence!” declared Talwar, who took over from Keith Harris in 2019, and recently called for an end to a mere “box-ticking” approach to the subject. “We need major change at pace with impact in the music industry. This survey helps to kickstart the change we all want and deserve.

“Our diversity is the source of our greatest strength. Help us shape the new voices in the music industry by being part of the change. Vision without evidence and action is a dream. Action without vision is a nightmare. Help shape the future of the music industry to ensure diversity sits front, centre and back.”

The survey has run every two years since it was launched by UK Music in 2016 and its findings help inform the industry and government on where improvements are needed.

Meanwhile, Talwar’s predecessor, veteran artist manager Keith Harris OBE, has also called for the music industry to move faster on the taskforce's recommendations.

If people at the top don’t do something positive, things will stay the same

Keith Harris

“It’s been slow,” he told Music Week. “If you look at the make-up of a lot of the boards, there’s still very little ethnic minority representation. In terms of diversity, there’s still under-representation of women and people with disabilities. It’s a very slow change.

“A lot of the time, people at the top don’t realise that, if they don’t actually do something positive, things will stay the same. In this business, it’s very easy to assume that everybody thinks the right thing and therefore, eventually, things will level themselves up. But it doesn’t work that way. Things don’t just automatically level themselves up without people taking positive action.”

Harris wrote a powerful open letter about racism in the industry on the eve of Black Out Tuesday and said he had been pleased to see the movement have such an impact.

“I don’t think I’ve seen a moment like this before, where pretty much everybody acknowledges that it’s time that something was done,” he said. “And people are putting real money in there – Warner, Sony and Universal are actually committing some proper funds to get things done. I think that means something will happen.”

But Harris also warned there was still much work to be done.

“You are trying to change opinions in much wider society, so I’m going to watch and see,” he said. “It depends how it’s administered; sometimes people pledge money and you wonder what happens to it.

“If companies haven’t got a diverse range of employees they should make sure that, as they recruit from now on, they make that their number one priority,” he added. “And, if they do have a diverse range of employees, they should have a look and see what progress minority groups are making. Are they progressing at the same rate as the rest of the workforce or, having got them in, are they stagnating in one area because people feel they’ve done enough by getting them into the company?”

UK Music head of diversity Rachel Bolland and taskforce deputy chair Paulette Long OBE also urged the industry to take part in the survey.

“Whilst we know there are issues surrounding ethnicity and gender within the music industry workforce,” said Long, “If we want to bring about a change in those areas of underrepresentation we need to use the power of data to help us better understand the challenge, and navigate a way forward.”

“Our workforce should be as diverse as the millions of fans who enjoy the incredible work produced by our world-leading industry,” said Bolland. “A key part of ensuring we reflect that diversity is our commitment to tracking improvements and changes in our industry so we can make further progress.  Government and Parliament is listening and we will be working with them to ensure the policy landscape is fit for purpose so diversity in our sector can flourish.”

You can complete the UK Music survey here.

* To read our full report into the industry’s response to Black Out Tuesday and Keith Harris’ Aftershow interview, see the new issue of Music Week, available now. To make sure you can access Music Week wherever you are, sign up to our digital issue by clicking here.

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