UK Music: ‘industry diversity is rising but more needs to be done’

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UK Music published the results of its 2018 Music Industry Workforce Diversity Survey on Monday (17 December), but chair Keith Harris OBE has warned there are still ‘significant issues’ around minority representation at senior levels in the music business.

Speaking to Music Week about BAME (Black, Asian, minority ethnic) representation in the industry, Harris said: ‘When you look at the senior management, there are still significant issues in terms of people being promoted. It’s one thing employing people but it’s another thing allowing them to make progress.

‘In the boardroom, there is still a lot of work to be done. I still find it remarkable that on almost every board I sit on, I’m the only minority face.’

Discussing the sectors to have reported their results, Harris noted that the publishing sector was less successful than others, commenting: ‘There are one or two sectors that aren’t doing as much as they could to get people to respond to the survey, so that would naturally make you suspect that they are lagging behind a bit.’

The survey, which focused on sex and ethnicity, was launched in 2016 and aims to track progress to boost diversity and inclusion in the music industry.

Nearly 3,000 music industry workers – including artists, studio producers, music managers and major and independent record labels – responded to the latest survey.

Among the key findings, it found that BAME representation in the UK music industry was up from 15.6 percent in 2016 to 17.8 percent in 2018.

The proportion of women in the music industry saw a 3.8 percent increase in 2018 (49.1 percent), while the percentage of young women aged 16 to 24 in the industry was up 10.7 percent to 65.3 percent.

BAME representation rose among interns and apprentices from 24.4 percent in 2016 to 35.2 percent in 2018, while BAME representation increased among senior managers from 11.4 percent in 2016 to 18.8 percent in 2018.

However, the survey also revealed a lower representation of females aged 35 and above compared to younger age groups, while BAME representation among workers aged 45 to 65 increased to 11.4 percent of the workforce – a figure below the 12.8 percent BAME total representation for the UK population as a whole.

In a statement, Harris said: ‘Things are changing for the better. Progress has been slow but steady. We are continuing to keep our focus on ethnicity and sex as the most obvious indicators that things are changing, while remembering that diversity in the industry is about much more than that, with socio-economic background being among the important but often neglected areas which needs attention.’

UK Music chief executive, Michael Dugher, said: ‘British music is a world-leading success story and one that we as a country should be very proud of. But I want us to be equally proud of our diversity as an industry.

‘Whilst we can welcome some very real and significant improvements, we still have much more work to do. Just imagine how much more successful our industry could be in the future, if we could only deepen the well from which we draw our talent?’

Culture Secretary, Jeremy Wright, added: ‘Everyone, regardless of their background, should have the opportunity to build a successful career in the music industry.

‘Diversity makes good business sense and I hope the improvements we have seen will continue so we have the strongest, most vibrant and inclusive music industry possible.’