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Sexual harassment in music sector too


ISM, Dignity at Work, report, sexual harassment, bullying, music sector Gender discrimination, bullying and high levels of sexual harassment were reported.

The Incorporated Society of Musicians, (ISM), the UK’s professional body for musicians, has released its report into the level of sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying and inappropriate behaviour in the music sector.

The ISM’s research – an analysis of the data received via anonymous responses to a survey of the music profession which launched on 2 November 2017 and closed on 28 February – has revealed a disturbing culture of discriminatory behaviour, including sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination relating to all protected characteristics across the entire music sector.

The survey data indicated that gender discrimination is an issue within the music sector, and that it mainly affects female musicians.

Many female musicians reported experiences ranging from comments about their appearance, being belittled, intimidated and overlooked for work or paid less than male musicians:

‘Teaching in a conservatoire female teachers are often less well paid than their male colleagues and more likely to be on zero hours or less secure contracts.’

‘Being treated as the stupid young girl who doesn’t know anything, being told my eyes are ‘sexy’. People commenting on how I dress.’

As well as gender discrimination and bullying, high levels of sexual harassment were reported by 60 per cent of the respondents, 72 per cent of whom were self-employed.

Of female respondents, 6 per cent, who were all self-employed, reported experiencing rape and assault.

The research also uncovered a high level of non-reporting of sexual harassment and discrimination – 77 per cent and 75 per cent respectively.

These troubling statistics, coupled with the fact that almost 50 per cent did not report their experiences due to fear of being victimised and ‘blacklisted’, indicates a toxic culture which needs to change.

To tackle this culture 86 per cent of respondents called for a sector-wide Code and 69 per cent called for improved processes and procedures.

The report has set out a series of recommendations and calls on the government and the music sector to tackle the issues which the survey highlighted.

Since the interim report was published in December 2017, the ISM has led a round table discussion, bringing together music industry, orchestras, and higher education – universities and conservatoires – colleagues to ‘identify ways forward’.

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, said: ‘Our research has revealed a worryingly high level of discriminatory behaviours and practices, including sexual harassment, inappropriate behaviour and discrimination relating to all nine protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2010, in our music sector.

“The music sector has a high level of self-employed workers which makes them particularly vulnerable.

“Very often they do not have access to the protection and support mechanisms which are to be found in more traditional employment.

“As a consequence this highly talented but vulnerable workforce is afraid of reporting their experiences for fear of victimisation and losing work opportunities.

“The sector needs to tackle this fear of reporting. The first step is to make clear that all engagements are based on a ‘contract personally to do work’, to ensure that the musician is within the ambit of section 83(2) of the Equality Act 2010.

“However this is not enough.

“It is also the responsibility of the entire music sector to change this toxic culture by putting in place a sector wide Code which will set standards in the workplace.

“The ISM will be consulting on a draft Code, drawing on the learning from organisations such as the BFI, and we call on all organisations to sign up and support its implementation.

“The risk of musicians losing work because they report sexual harassment, discrimination or bullying must end now.”

To read the full report, ‘Dignity at Work’, click here.

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