U.K. Music Industry is Still a Man's World: Women Hold Just 30 Percent of Executive Jobs

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Records sit in a case in Brooklyn's Black Gold Records, one of the few remaining record stores in New York, May 10, 2016. Less women hold senior jobs in the U.K. music industry than men. Spencer Platt/Getty

James Brown’s famously sang “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” in 1966. Fifty years later, the lyrics still hold true of the British music industry, according to a survey.

Just 30 percent of senior executive-level jobs in the U.K. recording industry are occupied by women. However, the number of women in intern/apprentice roles is 20 percent higher than men in similar roles.

The research was conducted by UK Music, the industry body that represents the interests of the British music scene, from individual artists to record labels and live music promoters.

UK Music diversity study - male versus female employees UK Music

The organization’s diversity taskforce quizzed 3,000 people in the business at all levels and from all sectors to gain insight into the makeup of women and ethnic minorities in the field.

Women were found to be more prevalently employed in the lower ranks of the industry and on fairly equal footing in the mid-ranks. The survey found that women made up 59 percent of entry-level business employees. The operations equivalent of an entry-level role, however, was split almost equally.

A greater discrepancy was found in more senior positions. Self-employed men in the business doubled the number of women—66 percent to 32 percent. The divide between men and women in senior executive jobs was 70 percent to 30 percent. In senior management jobs, men hold over 50 percent of jobs.

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“In my experience, women tend to be described as just ‘having been in the room,’” Jane Third, senior vice-president at Christine and the Queen’s record label Because Music, told The Guardian.

“There’s a perception that women have a passive role, whereas men quite often are credited with their success. And that stops them being considered promotable above a certain level.”

More encouraging is the number of BAME (black, Asian, minority ethnic) people finding work in the music industry, UK Music said. The representation of BAME employees stands at 15.6 percent, which is higher than the figure for the U.K. population as a whole at 12.8 percent.

UK Music diversity study - white vs BAME employees UK Music

Less than 20 percent of entry-level business workers were BAME, while the number in entry-level operations workers positions was 20 percent.

In senior management roles, BAME workers made up just 11 percent of the industry.

Keith Harris, a former Motown Records executive who has worked with Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder, chairs UK Music’s diversity taskforce and spearheaded the survey.

“It seems that we have reached a moment where the need to improve the diversity of our industry is being matched by a desire by all the interested parties to put initiatives in place that will make a significant difference. I am optimistic that over the coming few years we will see a significant improvement,” he said.