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IMPALA publishes results of independent sector diversity survey

By | Published on Tuesday 31 May 2022


IMPALA – the pan-European organisation for the independent music sector – has released a report on its first diversity and inclusion survey, which was part of the group’s wider work to champion and support a more diverse and inclusive music industry.

The survey involved both independent music companies and national independent sector trade bodies. It had two main aims: first to map best practices, local developments and projects regarding diversity and inclusion, and second to start to build a basic picture of the sector’s diversity and key issues faced. Companies and organisations in 22 different countries contributed information and insight into the study.

Summarising some key findings, IMPALA says: “For businesses who participated, the issues raised as the most challenging as regards diversity and inclusion are race and ethnicity, followed by gender and socio-economic factors. Associations put gender as the first issue to tackle, followed by race and ethnicity and age”.

“Through these surveys”, it adds, “we also observed that some of our members already have policies in place and are making changes. Others are not, mostly due to their small size or lack of finances, or because they see themselves as already diverse, or they don’t agree there is an issue, or they do agree but don’t know where to start. Nearly two thirds of associations have diversity and inclusion policies in place or planned to within the next year”.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a key factor raised by respondents was the need for more funding and other support to help independent music companies to pursue initiatives that will ensure more diversity and inclusion. With many indies being small companies with fewer resources and smaller teams, it can be more challenging to invest time and money into change initiatives while also staying on top of all the day-to-day demands of running a music business.

“Funding and other support for projects in the sector has come out as a key need”, IMPALA confirms, before noting that it “intends to ask the European Commission to develop more European Union diversity related funding opportunities to allow the sector to activate change, while still being able to continue their daily work”.

“IMPALA will also spread awareness on EU funding and make sure members know what is available”, it adds. “The report also asks national associations to check if there are national funds and share the news, as well as push for more support. The sharing of best practices was also highlighted as a priority”.

Although this survey provides a snapshot of diversity, diversity initiatives and diversity challenges in the independent sector, IMPALA says that it feels a different approach is needed to comprehensively map how diverse the music industry workforce really is.

With that in mind, it states: “IMPALA proposes that the European Commission and [EU statistical office] Eurostat work with the music sector and the broader cultural field. A system is needed to map diversity in a concrete and comprehensive way, that also respects national rules about gathering data on these issues”.

IMPALA sees projects like this very much as a work in progress. Keith Harris – who has been advising IMPALA’s Equity, Diversity And Inclusion Task Force – said this morning: “This is a learning process for the sector and it’s encouraging to see the independents pushing on with their commitments”.

“The most important thing is always to get started”, he went on. “One question we could add in the future would be if respondents feel that is there a business benefit in having a diverse workforce or if they feel it is just the right thing to do. I encourage IMPALA to continue working on this and this report provides IMPALA with useful information to move forward”.

IMPALA Executive Chair Helen Smith added: “Surveying members was the first commitment IMPALA set in our diversity and inclusion charter. The need for EU and national support for change is very clear and we will raise this finding with the EU institutions. We will also flag the need for the EU to help gather workforce data as we look at ways of mapping the EU cultural sectors further”.

You can download the report here.