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Ivors Academy Addresses Industry Gender & Ethnicity Pay Gap

The Ivors Academy, the UK’s professional association representing songwriters and composers, recently published its first annual gender and ethnicity pay gap report despite its number of staff members (14) being far below the Government threshold of 250 employees, which is when companies must publish information about gender pay gaps.

Annual pay gap reporting is one part of the Academy’s action plan to champion equality, diversity and inclusion across all of its work. Headliner spoke to chair of The Ivors Academy’s Ethics Committee, Charlene Brown about the report’s findings and what work is left to do.

Brown is also a lawyer, entrepreneur, diversity and inclusion specialist and Co-Active coach. As an employment lawyer, Brown founded Howlett Brown, the UK’s only firm that offers a holistic approach to people-related issues within organisations by looking at the root cause to ensure lasting solutions. As a diversity and inclusion specialist, Brown delivers diversity and inclusion training to some of Europe, the Middle East and Africa’s most known organisations.

What inspired you to launch this report?

At The Ivors Academy we’re determined to represent, celebrate and support the full range of songwriters and composers in the UK – across all genres and backgrounds.

To do this we need to look at everything we do and the way we do it and see where the improvements and opportunities are to be more inclusive in our thinking, strategy and approach, to create opportunities and equity where they’re currently lacking and how we increase our breadth of representation.

Like all organisations, and especially those that have small teams, we have limits on our resources while delivering our core mission – but that focuses rather than dims our determination.

This report is one part of that approach, to provide greater transparency on pay gaps and – importantly – what we’re doing to address them. It’s about pay, but it’s also about creating a positive and equitable culture and environment at the Academy that supports, develops and inspires our hard-working team, and ultimately our members and the communities we serve.

I would never want any person to feel that they have been hired because they ‘fit’ a demographic. Charlene Brown, chair of The Ivors Academy’s Ethics Committee

What were your key findings?

Because the Academy has a small team (14 members of staff) one or two people can make a big difference to the result. So, we looked at gender and ethnicity pay gaps including and excluding the CEO, who’s a white male.

Looking at the whole workforce you can see both gender and ethnicity pay gaps. Going into the detail, including CEO pay, there is a gender pay gap – the mean is 2% above and the median is 14% below the national average.

Excluding the CEO’s salary, the Academy does not have a mean gender pay gap and the median is significantly lower than the national average.
There is not a median ethnicity pay gap, but the mean ethnicity pay gap increases by 6% by including the CEO’s salary, but calculated using the median there is not an ethnicity pay gap.

Were you surprised at the findings?

They’re more insightful than surprising, and a really useful way to increase transparency and drive positive change at the Academy and beyond. This is a starting point and we intend to build on this understanding to create action and change at the Academy.

How will you use this report to fix the issues of ethnicity and pay gaps?

The report shows there’s more we can do. We will be reflecting further on the data points identified and the way we recruit and develop our staff to encourage and support a diverse workforce where there are opportunities to develop leadership skills and for career progression.

We’ll also look at the way we promote job opportunities and appoint staff, so the way we recruit helps attract a diverse range of talent. We’ll also increase the support for leadership development to help our staff develop and reach their potential. There’s lots of shared experience across the music industry that we want to tap into to help with this.

How does this raise awareness to the wider issue of gender and ethnicity gaps in the music industry?

Transparency is key. The more we’re open about where we are and what we’re doing to address issues like pay gaps, the more it becomes a regular conversation that we’re all having. We recognise that it starts with transparency and honesty about the reality of pay in the industry.

However, it must also move into action and positive change. We hope that organisations like ours - the Academy and others - can continue to lead from where we are and that other organisations follow, or hopefully, raise the bar for us all to aim higher and make more needed positive change.

Organisations will not know where they stand on pay inequities until they look at their data.

Do you hope other organisations will follow suit with similar reports; what do you think the likelihood of that is?

I’m hopeful. All companies that employ over 250 people must report on gender pay gaps, but as small-to-medium size enterprises make up three-fifths of employment in the private sector, we’re an important group of businesses. Why wait until the government mandates you must do this, when it’s straightforward to do and is a useful way to drive positive change?

As an employment lawyer that advises businesses on its pay reporting outside of my role at the Academy, I understand the discomfort some may feel undertaking such a review before they are mandated legally to do so.

However, whilst it may be uncomfortable, organisations will not really know where they stand with regard to pay inequities until they take a proper look at their data and what it is telling them. Without this insight, a lot of their efforts to create better workplaces and a better music industry will ultimately hit a ceiling. Action to address pay gaps need to be central to that effort.

People working in any sector want to feel they are employed for their skills; how does this effort to close the gender and ethnicity gap in the music industry reassure people that they are indeed being hired for their skills, and not to help an organisation meet a target ‘quota’?

Quotas are currently illegal in the UK. Targets are reflected on by organisations across multiple industries and sectors. Some have them and others don’t. Targets are created as a measure to focus an organisation to make pay equity and equal opportunities in hiring a priority because they know there is work to be done.

Ultimately, businesses are there to fulfil their purpose. It would seem nonsensical to hire a person for a visual veneer when you have a client or industry to serve to the best of your ability. So, I would challenge any person who suggests a person is hired because they ‘fit’ a demographic and I would never want any person to feel that they are not good enough and have been hired because they ‘fit’ a demographic.

They are there because they are talented and capable. Own it and run with it, I say.