Gender equality improves in UK music industry boardrooms

Twelve trade bodies, including the British Phonographic Industry and UK Music, have added female board members since disparity highlighted in 2020

Gender equality in UK music industry boardrooms has improved over the last year, with the boards of 12 major trade organisations now averaging at 42% female – a rise from 34% in 2020.

The organisations include the British Phonographic Industry, the central trade body that runs the Brit awards and Mercury prize and monitors music sales; royalties companies PPL and PRS for Music; plus the Association for Independent Music, Incorporated Society of Musicians, Ivors Academy and others, including umbrella advocacy organisation UK Music. Three of the organisations now have chairwomen, up from only one in 2021.

The number of Black women holding board seats more than doubled, though from a low number: there are now 11 Black female board members, up from five last year. None of the chief executives or chairs are Black women.

Nadia Khan, founder of campaigning group Women in CTRL, who conducted the research, said: “I commend those organisations that have taken steps towards real change, and it’s promising to see. But our work is far from done, the stats are still stark, and a far way off true equality. True diversity goes beyond female representation to minority groups, disability, socio-economic status, sexual orientation and education. Let’s try to fix the system and have real conversations.”

Once dominated by white men despite the diversity of those making music, the UK industry has been making efforts in recent years to correct the disparity. In 2020, a UK Music study found that the proportion of women working across the industry had risen from 45.3% in 2016 to 49.6%.

But in an industry that relies on Black creativity and artistry, still less than a fifth of executives are non-white. Across the music industry workforce as a whole, ethnic diversity did rise, from 17.8% in 2018 to 22.3% in 2020.

In 2020, PRS for Music and others signed up to the Keychange initiative, pledging at least 50% representation on their boards of women and “under-represented genders”.


Ben Beaumont-Thomas

The GuardianTramp

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