First results presented of the research into diversity and inclusion within the electronic music industry

Thursday, 12 March 2020
"The Only One In The Room" lays bare the entrenched attitudes to/and treatment of women across the music business.

The Research

During one of the opening panels of this year’s ADE: “The Only One in the Room” - Sarah Hildering, CEO Ledo Music, and Samantha Warren, Professor at the University of Portsmouth, presented the first ever independent research into diversity and inclusion within the electronic music industry. “ADE is very happy that we could provide a place in our program to present this research, since it’s an issue that concerns us all”, Head of Conference Karsten ter Hoeven, says. “Solutions may well be found in a scientific approach to the collected data, and we intend to present this research on an annual basis in order to compare year on year results and spot trends that are a snapshot of where we are in our journey towards a balanced, safe and equal workspace in the music industry.”

The data was collected globally, focusing on traditional music organisations such as the recording, publishing and distribution sector. While the live side of the electronic music industry and certain countries such as the US and UK have been researched and more openly discussed in the last few years, not a lot is known or documented about companies that effectively operate ‘behind closed doors’. “If an important part of our industry is not included in this conversation, the lack of transparency limits how far we can lean in towards positive action and improvement in making the music and tech industry more gender balanced,” comments Sarah Hildering.

On behalf of AFEM, and in partnership with the University of Portsmouth, Prof Dr Samantha Warren, Sarah Hildering and Hannae Brand, Sales coordinator & Business analyst at FUGA, led this research. Gathering both organisational as well as personal data, an in-depth understanding of the current issues from the ground up was generated. Sarah Hildering continues “The aim is to catalyze action for improvement that can be discussed and implemented on a company-wide scale, particularly for those who find improvement of D&I (Diversity and Inclusion) challenging within their organisations. Furthermore, our research was the first to include subjective data as is ‘felt’, because objective metrics do little more than count what’s happening (and can even be argued to hold minorities back). Our data focus is on experiences, which is often what drives truly positive inclusive change within companies”.

Gender imbalance in our Industry is very real

Interestingly, the data shows there were more women than men working in junior roles within the music rights management industry (for periods of 2-5 years), but then female long service drops off after six years. Only 4% of female and non-binary respondents have more than twenty years of experience in the music industry, as opposed to 92% of men. As we reach the management team, around 55% of the organisations have 25% or less women in the team, with 37% reporting only 10% or fewer women in senior management positions. Just over 20% of organisations reported only ¼ to ½ of their management team made up of women.

When asked the question of whether people felt their pay was equal to the opposite gender, 95% of men felt their pay was roughly equal to, or greater than women doing the same job, but only 77% of women felt their pay was equal to male counterparts. No (zero) women felt they were paid more than men, and 23% of women felt their pay was not equal to that of a man doing the same job. Only 5% of men felt their pay was less than women’s. This is an interesting finding, when we contrast this subjective data to the well-studied and documented industry-wide gender pay gap of roughly 49%. It seems both women and men discount men’s relative overpay compared to their female colleagues.

Further analysis into minority experiences in the workplace found that women are over 3 times as likely to feel minority status as men, and are half as likely to feel they are part of a majority, and thereby included. Of those who felt minority status to some degree, gender followed by race and age were the most significant reasons for those feelings. This suggests intersectional issues are very important, particularly when it comes to age and race intersecting with being a woman.

As is bullying and harassment

With regard to bullying and harassment experienced at the workplace, 61% of the women identifying as a minority have experienced bullying or harassment: 20% from clients, but double that (42%) occurred in the workplace. No men identifying as a minority have reported experiencing bullying or harassment. When asked whether people felt taken seriously for the job they perform, 29% of women said their work was definitely not taken seriously. 100% of men reported feeling they and their work were taken seriously, but only 43% of women said the same. Furthermore, 76% of women felt pressure to suppress their female/feminine qualities in order to fit in, reporting they had to act like ‘one of the guys’.

These early findings are interesting and suggest that companies still have work to do around their cultures of inclusion, as well as taking stock of how they reward and retain their minority employees. A fuller analysis by AFEM will be undertaken in due course as data collection is currently ongoing.

Code of Conduct for a safer and more successful industry

As part of an ongoing effort to drive positive change in the electronic music industry, AFEM has submitted the first global Code of Conduct (CoC) for music professionals and companies to honour and adopt. This Code, co-written by Matt Adell and Sarah Hildering, offers clear guidance about how to raise today’s standards within our industry, with the ultimate goal of eliminating gender discrimination, imbalance, bullying and harassment. The Code will be published and shared with you all soon, and ADE is a proud early adopter of this Code of Conduct.

“The relationship between diversity and inclusion, and sexual harassment within a company and within the industry that a company operates in, is well-known and has been broadly researched. The two really can’t be looked at and discussed as if they are independent variables of one another. Now, the reality that research has depicted over the past thirty years is that due to lack of a clear and consistent code honoured within our industry, sexual harassment has been swept under the carpet, only to see it pile up from under there. Studies show that companies honouring a CoC have employees with more intention to intervene when harassment is happening, more helpful behaviour, less retaliatory behaviour, and overall better careers with stronger mental health. Companies that do not honour a CoC constitute up to two thirds of sexual harassment complaints filed followed by retaliation, an overall culture of lack of belief, blaming the victim, rarely seeing the harasser face any consequences, eventually cultivating harassment behaviour on a company wide scale. This cumulative effect will not only do significant damage to the integrity of any company but also resulting in costly loss of talent. Sexual harassment does not solely negatively affect the targets, but it effects bystanders, co-workers, work groups and entire organisations. As many of us have experienced, it fosters the belief that sexual harassment is just something we have to accept if we want to work in music,” comments Hildering.

Such a Code offers value as both an internal guide and an external statement of what a company’s values really are. It fosters leadership, empowers employees to handle ethical dilemmas they encounter in everyday work, and encouragers a healthy and safe workspace. It protects, and also serves as an ethical benchmark. Furthermore, a CoC is a public statement of what a company stands for with regard to its commitment to right conduct, and of risk mitigation. This Code, and our values, serve as a joint commitment to the highest standards in helping ourselves and each other, in hiring great people and committing to keeping them, attracting loyal partners and users, and furthermore, building a foundation to our success.