Business News Industry People Labels & Publishers Legal Live Business Top Stories

UK Music calls on government to remove barriers to closing the gender pay gap

By | Published on Tuesday 12 October 2021

UK Music

Cross-sector trade group UK Music has called on both employers and the government to do more to help close the gender pay gap – generally and specifically within the music industry – following the latest publication of stats on this issue by British companies.

The trade body says that while there have been some “excellent schemes” implemented by the music industry in an effort to ensure that women earn the same as men for doing the same job, “there are still worrying gender pay gaps in the music industry and workplaces everywhere”.

There are various different issues that need to be addressed in order to close the gender pay gap, of course, in particular changing those systems and working practices that can prevent female employees from progressing to the top of the organisations they work for. Tackling those challenges requires efforts and investments from employers, but – UK Music adds – there is also a need for government and law-makers to act in certain domains.

Since 2017, it has been a legal requirement in the UK for companies with more than 250 employees to annually report information on the disparity in pay between men and women within their organisations. This means that the country’s bigger music companies must also publish this information. The deadline for publishing this year’s data was last week.

At the major labels, the UK division of Sony Music performed best in the latest stats, paying women 91p for every £1 earned by men in 2020. This is the same as the previous year. Warner Music UK, meanwhile, pays 82p – down from 86p.

Universal Music UK reported that it is paying women 75p for every £1 earned by men. Last year, Universal did not report its figures – with the legal obligation to do so suspended due to the pandemic – but its gender pay gap has widened every year since its first report.

Another company to report a backwards step in its efforts to improve pay for women was the UK division of Spotify, which reported a rate of 81p, which was down from 86p in 2019.

Live Nation UK reported that women at the company earn 86p for every £1 that men earn, up from 74p in 2019. Its main rival, AEG Presents, does not provide its own report, but its parent company, Anschutz Sports Holdings – which also owns the O2 Arena – reported paying 80p – a sharp rise from 61p in 2019.

Although there have been improvements at some companies, it is clear that the disparity in pay between men and women in the music industry remains. It takes quite a lot of digging around to find a music or entertainment company where women don’t earn less than men. There are some examples though.

At the music licensing joint venture between collecting societies PPL and PRS – aka PPL PRS Limited – women actually earn £1.02 for every £1 that men earn (however, at PPL and PRS themselves the gender gap has grown slightly). Meanwhile, at Wembley Stadium things have moved rapidly in the other direction. While in last year’s report pay between men and women was perfectly balanced, this year it reported that women are earning £1.47 for every pound paid to men.

“There have been some welcome improvements on tackling the gender pay gap, which will come down as more women take on senior and leadership positions within their organisations”, says UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin. “Many businesses in the music industry have introduced excellent schemes to help bring about positive changes. However, there are still worrying gender pay gaps in the music industry and workplaces everywhere”.

“We need swifter and greater progress to address some of the structural barriers that hinder the progress of women in the workplace”, he goes on. “The government must do more to help tackle these challenges. This includes addressing the need for more equitable parental leave schemes that work for all families, ensuring well-funded and accessible childcare, and ensuring access to justice for victims of workplace discrimination”.

Stressing that businesses must also do more, he concludes: “Employers should fully support employees when they have children, embrace flexible working whenever possible, and review structures that lead to disappointing pay gaps. By working together and continuing to press everyone to close the gender pay gap we can put the music industry at the forefront of bringing about fairness and inclusivity in the workplace”.

UK Music Diversity Taskforce Deputy Chair Paulette Long adds: “Tackling the gender pay gap as we emerge from a crisis that has disproportionately hit women and their incomes is more urgent than ever. The pace of change needs to be accelerated so women do not have to wait for yet more years before the necessary actions are taken that will allow us to see more equitable outcomes in the way we are paid”.

It remains to be seen how the government responds, and if the next round of music industry gender pay stats in a year’s time will show greater improvement.

READ MORE ABOUT: | | | | | | | | |