Black Lives in Music give evidence at the Misogyny In Music Parliamentary inquiry

The first inquiry of its kind, called by the Women and Equalities Committee

BLiM Announces the creation of an Industry Wide Anti-racism Code Of Conduct, endorsed by the Independent Standards Authority
Black Lives in Music has been giving evidence on the first day of the Misogyny In Music inquiry, the first inquiry of its kind, set up by the Women and Equalities Committee.Chief Executive Charisse Beaumont was invited to the hearing after Black Lives in Music (BLiM) released the results and findings of their survey in October 2021 – Being Black in the UK Music Industry Pt. 1 – which set out to capture data on the experiences of music industry professionals and creators, and which included a specific focus on misogyny in the music industry affecting Black women.The Being Black in the UK Music Industry Pt. 1 is the largest survey of Black musicians and music industry professionals conducted in the UK to date. The survey, which partnered with Opinium Research, revealed a majority of those who took part have experienced direct or indirect acts of racism in the music industry. The survey also found some stark data identifying a link between this discrimination and mental well-being, especially among Black women.42% of Black women surveyed said their mental health had worsened since starting a career in music and 16% had sought counselling due to racial abuse. Citing various reasons, from the barriers to progression and overt racial discrimination, the report also found that Black women earn 25% less on average than their white female colleagues, and 46% earn less than half their revenue from music, creating extra pressure to find other routes to supplement their income.Now, BLiM are launching an industry wide anti-racism code of conduct for the music industry, endorsed by the Independent Standards Authority (ISA) to launch at the beginning of 2023, to raise standards and tackle discrimination. It covers issues such as discriminatory behaviour, micro-aggressions, support mechanisms for staff, mandatory anti-racism training, equal pay and contracts, career progression and achieving proportionate representation in the artist, technical and production communities. This will be implemented in Spring 2023.During the first day of the inquiry, Charisse Beaumont gave evidence across multiple areas. Firstly, that Black women feel the need to change themselves in order to be accepted within the music industry, referencing the results of BLiM’s 2021 survey: “​​Out of about 900 women, 70% felt that they needed to change something about themselves to assimilate and be accepted into the music industry, and 43% of Black women had changed something about themselves to be more accepted. One of the comments we received was ‘I wanted to change my name and lighten my skin to be more appealing, to be accepted and fit in and have more opportunities.”Beaumont commented on pay disparity between Black women and the rest of the music industry, citing that “Black women are discriminated against twice. Number one, they’re females, number two, they’re Black. That has an effect in terms of their pay – Black women are paid less, 17% less than Black men, 25% less than white women, and 52% less than white men in the industry.”When discussing whether women face barriers to progression, Beaumont spoke about the lack of female producers within the industry: “There is a low level of female participation. If we’re looking at producers, only 2.6% of producers are female. Female producers struggle to find their way to make it in the industry. They study it, they understand it, they are qualified, yet they can’t seem to get into the room because of that male white male gaze, because they’re seen as not technical.”Adding to this, Beaumont looked at racism as another roadblock women face: “Barriers to progression could look like racial comments and racial microaggressions. 80% of Black women have experienced racial microaggressions, and 77% of Black women that we surveyed have experienced indirect racism.”Beaumont brought up the importance of Black women in management in the music industry, citing the success of Little Simz: “There are women in leadership roles, who are now supporting independent artists, who are taking control of their brands and seeing women from a different perspective. Little Simz, a rapper, completely authentic, beautiful, dreadlocks – she’s gone on to win a Mercury Music Prize, she’s won a Brit Award. The person that’s in charge of her career is a Black woman. And that’s because she understands the culture, she understands Simz’ stance, and most importantly, she knows how to market and make someone a success.”    “The music industry is like the Wild West. There is no central place to report bad behaviour.” Beaumont said on the problems surrounding women speaking up, and the issues themselves being efficiently dealt with. “There could be more signposting, more obvious ways of showing that there’s going to be a consequence to the perpetrator and that you’re going to be protected and safe.”She talked about her hopes for change that the code of conduct, endorsed by the ISA:“The Independent Standards Authority – we are hoping that will be the oversight.  We have an Anti-Racism Code Of Conduct that has been developed very closely with the film, TV, music industries and theatre sector. It will have the power to investigate the most serious and complex cases of bullying and harassment, as well as advocate for positive culture and discrimination. It will have legal expertise behind it as well. There are pockets of support, but if you’re looking for help, where do you go? That’s why it’s really important to have that overarching, strong messaging of consequence, of protection. That you do not have to have fear of retaliation. And I think that can be found with the ISA.”Closing with Black Lives in Music’s approach to diversifying the music industry, Beaumont explained: “We work with the senior management level, CEOs, to actually help them reach their EDI objectives. We look at governance, marketing and comms, recruitment, retainment and staff, and actually diversifying. Also working on programmes to tackle the grassroots aspect, ensuring there’s pipelines so that young people can get a quality education. We work with Black, Asian and ethnically diverse people, ensuring that they have the chance to fulfil their aspirations in the music industry. In terms of EDI programmes, it’s not a tick box exercise, and we’re seeing some great headway in terms of diversifying our industry. But we are one organisation – there’s a lot that still needs to be done.”