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UK Music diversity survey finds improvements, but says more needs to be done

By | Published on Thursday 29 October 2020

UK Music

UK Music has published its biennial Diversity Report, which seeks to track changes in diversity across the UK music industry. According to research by the trade body of trade bodies, there have been improvements in ethnic and gender diversity across the music industry, particularly in younger age demographics. Although issues remain.

Representation of black, Asian and other ethnic minorities among those aged 16-24 in the music industry now stands at 30.6% – the highest percentage since the report first launched in 2016. The most significant growth was in entry-level positions. At a senior executive level, there has been a rise from 17.9% in 2018 to 19.9% in 2020.

The percentage of industry roles held by women now stands at 49.6%, although there has been a drop in the 45-64 age bracket, where executive roles are more likely to be held by men. Women accounted for 38.7% of execs in that age bracket in 2018, but 35% in 2020.

Although there are some positive shifts in UK Music’s latest diversity stats, the trade group’s Diversity Taskforce – which leads on the research – says that there is still plenty more to be done, and has laid out a ten-point plan of recommendations to further affect change.

This includes the eradication of the term ‘urban’ to describe certain genres of music and the halting of the use of the acronym BAME – rather, the full term ‘black, Asian or ethnic minority’ should be used.

It also recommends that the various trade groups that make up the UK Music membership allocate budget to diversity training, and programmes to boost diversity in middle and senior management.

In addition, it calls for greater transparency and reporting on pay gaps and progress on improving diversity. This includes encouraging music companies to work to increase the response rate to the Diversity Report survey ahead of the next edition in 2022.

UK Music Diversity Taskforce Chair Ammo Talwar says: “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 ten-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”.

Commenting on the report and resulting plan on behalf of its record label members, BPI boss Geoff Taylor adds: “We promoted [the Diversity Report] 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 ten-point plan so that, working together, our industry can deliver lasting and meaningful change”.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Chair of the UK Music taskforce, Paulette Long, says: “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 ten-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”.