UK Labels Reveal Gender Pay Gap: 'There's Still Much More Work to Do'

UK Flag
Getty Images


Of the three majors, Warner is the worst offender with female employees earning on average 49 percent less per hour than their male counterparts.

The news won't come as a surprise to anyone inside the music industry, but confirmation that men hold the majority of senior posts at all three major labels in the U.K. -- and take home considerably more pay than their female colleagues -- still makes for depressing reading.

Figures released by the U.K. arms of Universal Music, Warner Music and Sony Music in accordance with new government legislation reveal a predictably large imbalance between the salaries of men and women across the record business.

Of the three majors, Warner is the worst offender with female employees earning on average 49 percent less per hour than their male counterparts. In real cash terms, that equates to women earning £0.51 for every £1 that men earn.

The median figure across Warner U.K.'s frontline, catalog, distribution and commercial business operations stands at 21 percent. 

When it comes to bonuses, the picture is equally one sided with Warner U.K.'s female executives paid 82 percent less on average than their male counterparts (44 percent in median terms).

As of last April, 85 percent of the label's male employees received a bonus payment, compared to 74 percent of female staff.  

In terms of pay bands, just 26 percent of Warner U.K.'s top earning executives are female with the number climbing to 44 percent in the "middle quartile," which roughly translates as the second executive tier. 

"Our current gender pay gap numbers make starkly clear the need for us to accelerate the pace of change within our company," states Warner Music Group EVP of human resources Masha Osherova in the company's report. 

Acknowledging an "imbalance of men and women in our senior roles," Osherova goes on to say that while progress has been made in many areas "we're acutely aware there's still much more work to do." The report cites the creation of a diversity task force and women and parenting networks, coupled with improved recruitment and training procedures as some of the ways that Warner is bringing about change. 

Over at Universal, female employees earn on average 30 percent less per hour than males, equating to £0.70 for every £1 that men earn. In median terms, the gender pay gap is 17 percent, while women's average bonus pay is 49 percent lower than men's. When it comes to the company's highest pay grade, the ratio skews 70–30 in favor of men. 

In a statement accompanying the report, Morna Cook, senior director, HR at Universal Music U.K. said that the data "shows a gender pay gap which is unacceptable to us." 

"The gap is due to having fewer women than men in senior positions, something we are addressing," continued Cook, citing the appointment of female presidents at two of Universal U.K.'s front line labels -- Jo Charrington at Capitol and Rebecca Allen at Decca -- that are not reflected in the period covered by the report. 

Cook also notes that the label's headline pay gap figures are "influenced by bonuses paid to senior A&R staff, an area of the music business which is still male-dominated." To address the issue, Universal has put in place a development plan to increase the number of female A&R executives it employs. Other initiatives to improve inclusion and diversity mentioned include a paid intern scheme, family-friendly policies and a greater focus on mentoring programs to help advance female executives. 

At Sony, the average rate of hourly pay for female employees is 23 percent lower than males. In real cash terms, that equates to women earning £0.77 for every £1 that men earn. The pay gap in median terms is 5 percent, while average bonus payments for women are 45 percent lower than those awarded to men. 

In line with Universal, the proportion of male and female staff who received bonus pay was roughly the same at around 75 percent. 

As with the other majors, however, Sony employs significantly fewer women at its highest pay bands where men make up over 63 percent of the workforce. The next rung down the executive ladder, the "upper middle quartile," sees women accounting for 49 percent of all posts.  

The data was published in accordance with new U.K. legislation that requires employers with more than 250 employees to make public their gender pay gap as of April 5, 2017. 

Other music companies who have also published information about their gender pay gap include Live Nation and Kobalt Music Group, with the latter reporting a 20 percent imbalance between female and male average earnings as of April 2017. Since then, the London-based company says its gender pay gap has reduced to just under 13 percent.

At the U.K. arm of Live Nation women earn 46 percent less per hour than men (31 percent in median terms), with women accounting for 41 percent of the company's highest paid job roles. Bonus payments to female executives were 88 percent lower than men's. 

Ticketmaster fared just as poorly with female employees earning on average 35 percent less an hour than male staff and women making up just 21 percent of its top earning executives.