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  • Writer's pictureSophie Smith

Women in CTRL Seat At The Table Report - A year later

Women in CTRL seat at the table 1 year on

A year after Women In CTRL released their seat at the table report, we look to see which organisations have really made a change, and what it means to us to have a seat at the table.

Women in CTRL is an organisation founded by Nadia Khan. She started her career in music PR 20 years ago. She runs several successful independent record labels, which she’s achieved multiple top 20 chart success with. Nadia, also sits as a Board Director for AIM (Association of Independent Music).

What is Women in CTRL?

It is a non-profit organisation set up to empower and inspire women in all parts of the music industry. It provides a collective voice for women and minorities and underrepresented groups to advocate for fairness and equality.

They work to identify barriers for women in music and aim to find sustainable solutions around them. They regularly campaign, lobby and advise industry associates and organisations on issues relevant to Women in CTRL members. It is a community of women who uplift other women, giving them the confidence to become leaders. There are also one-to-one advice sessions, training and networking.

In 2020 we saw Women in CTRL grow. Nadia released "A Seat At The Table" report in July 2020.

In the first report, they analysed the makeup of the team, board members, chairperson and CEO positions across 12 UK music industry trade bodies. Unsurprisingly, in these top positions, women were vastly unrepresented. The key findings were shocking:

  • 27% of CEOs across 11 music trade body boards were women. 0% of which were black women.

  • 9% of Chairpersons across 11 music trade body boards were female. There was one across 11 trade bodies in this report. 0% of which were black women.

  • 34% of board members across 12 body boards were women. 3% of which were black women, with 5 positions being held on a possible 185 seats.

  • At 6%, the lowest representation of women was on the PPL Board. 2% of people employed in team or executive teams across 12 music trade body boards were black women, with 2 positions being held out of a possible 118 positions.

Even if you expected the results, they were still morbid. 0 black female CEOs with only 3 women out of a possible 11 trade bodies. Only 1 woman was a chairperson out of all 11 music industry trade bodies, with 0 black women. The female board members were very few and far between too, with the PPL only having one woman out of 16 members. If there were any black women on any of the boards, there would be only one. In such an enormous industry, having such a lack of diversity at the top, it is no wonder that lower down we are still experiencing problems with the industry not supporting people of colour or non-males.

Some boards such as the Music Venue Trust and the MMF had a 50/50 split of men and women, but were still a white only board. They rarely hired women, and if they did nearly exclusively only hired white women.

Women in CTRL released a diversity pledge encouraging the trade organisations to take accountability first, to commit to diversity by starting at the top, diversifying their team and listening to women.

A year later, Women In CTRL have released a followup report.

2021 Seat at the table report, what does it say?

  • There was no change in female CEO’s from 2020, meaning there are still 0 black women in these positions.

  • There has been an increase of 2 female chairpersons across 11 music industry trade bodies, an 18% rise.

  • An 8% increase in female board members.

  • Last year, the PPL had the lowest representation of women on their board at 6%, this year it has risen to 31% making 5 of their board of 16 members women. 2 of whom are black women, meaning they are now the most improved in terms of ethnicity across all 12 music trade bodies.

Breaking it down

AIM (Association of Independent Music) became the most improved in terms of gender on board level, from 35% to 65% which is an impressive rise. They increased representation of black women on the board from 6% to 12%, and they elected a female chair.

FAC (Featured Artists Coalition) added two black female observers onto the board before their 2021 elections at their annual general meeting to encourage diverse applicants and help potential applicants become familiar with the board.

ISM (Incorporated Society of Musicians) improved their gender representation by electing a female chair and electing a black one onto their board, taking their representation from 0% to 6%. Their overall gender representation has increased from 41% to 56%, a 15% increase.

The Ivors Academy had 2 directors step down to allow for increased diversity on the board, showing their commitment to diversity. They achieved a 50/50 gender balance on the board and elected on black woman to the board, growing their 0% representation to 6%.

MPG (Music Producers Guild) increased their gender representation on the board from 40% to 60%, by taking on another woman.

PPL as said before, have made some massive changes, they are the second most improved across gender representation. Their representation has gone from 6% to 31%, a 25% increase. They have the most improved ethnicity on their board; they elected 2 black women taking it up to 13%.

Cut to the chase

Though there has been some change, it doesn’t feel like enough. When looking at the ethnicity statistics, it is disappointing to see such small change compared to gender, most music trade bodies are still favouring white people. Most of the 12 trade bodies increased their gender diversity, but when it came down to ethnicity, only a few made vital changes to make room for black women.

There are still 0 black women sitting on MPG, MVT, and UK Music’s boards. A slight increase of female board members across all 12 music trade bodies from 5 black women to 11. However, out of 186 seats, it is not enough to only have 13% black women. There are still no black women as chairpersons or CEO’s which is incredibly disheartening.

So far, the FAC, MVT, UK Music have all made 0 changes to their gender and ethnicity diversity across their board. Next year we hope to see an even playing field on gender and ethnicity in these massive trade bodies to make room for black women.

The report ended with 100 women, all part of the Women in CTRL community, talking about what it means for them to have a seat at the table. Our founder Vanessa mentioned what it means to her.

“Having a seat at the table means knowing that when important decisions are made, there’s a person who can advocate for you in the room who might have experienced similar barriers to you. Barriers which they may not have faced as a more privileged person. Those decisions impact careers, lives and the wider society.”

Women in CTRL community link to join


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