Newsletter Editorial #125: Diversity's Whitewash

24 Mar 2016

Credits: geralt@pixabay

The music industry’s tussle with the issue of diversity most recently typified by a near all-white role call of 2016 BRIT winners has rightly forced this important debate centre stage.  And not before time.

Regrettably, you don’t have to look very far to realise that this is likely a reflection of what goes on inside some but by no means all music and entertainment companies.

Nor is it just about artists either.  As Remi Harris pointed out in a post on this issue earlier this week, whilst there may be many successful examples of support and career opportunities in the industry, climbing the ladder of career advancement and breaking through the (seemingly reinforced) glass ceiling is, by a long way, the preserve of very few from a BAME background.

McKinsey’s 2015 Diversity Matters research findings make compelling reading for those concerned with company performance – whether it be financial, competitive, employee or customer focused:

“Recent research has found that companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians.  Companies in the bottom quartile in these dimensions are statistically less likely to achieve above-average returns. And diversity is probably a competitive differentiator that shifts market share toward more diverse companies over time.

While greater gender and ethnic diversity in corporate leadership doesn’t automatically translate into more profit, the correlation does indicate that when companies commit themselves to diverse leadership, they are more successful”

Similarly, drilling down into the music industry specifically, 2013 research by BASCA’s Vic Bain points to transformative changes for music businesses that fully embrace equality and diversity practices.

It’s therefore bewildering why as an industry we find ourselves seemingly unable to embrace change and build a workforce that is truly representative of multi-cultural Britain.  As Craig David collaborator Big Nastie said in his C4 interview during the furore of this year’s BRITS and the ensuing #britssowhite backlash:

“… for our country to do good, we need to embrace our country.”

In an attempt to shed further light on this impassioned topic, MusicTank will shortly be publishing a paper on diversity, the findings of which highlight the failure of policy to trickle down within corporations and the hidden discriminatory attitudes and endemic unfair practices within the UK music industry.

Coming at a time of a renewed commitment in some quarters to affect positive change through a revitalised diversity task force, we look forward to debating the paper and the issues it raises a little later in the year.

Editorial by Jonathan Robinson

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