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Add your name to the ISM's open letter to Kemi Badenoch MP

The ISM's report, Dignity at work 2: Discrimination in the music sector, exposed the devastating scale of discrimination and harassment experienced by the music workforce. For too long, a pervasive culture of fear and lack of legal protections have rendered musicians and other music sector workers vulnerable to unsafe workplaces. It's time for the Government to take action.

Together, we can send a powerful message to the Minister for Women and Equalities, Kemi Badenoch MP. Please read our open letter and add your signature in support. The more who sign, the louder our voice will be.

Open Letter

Dear Kemi Badenoch,

We would like to congratulate you on your recent appointments as Secretary of State for International Trade, President of the Board of Trade, and Minister for Women and Equalities. We are writing to you in your capacity of the Minister for Women and Equalities.

The recent report from the Independent Society of Musicians (ISM), published on 28 September 2022, exposed the prevalence of direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, and victimisation in the music sector, including:

  • 66% of 660 respondents experienced at least one form of discrimination at work in relation to one or more protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.
  • 78% of discrimination was committed against women.
  • 58% of this was identified as sexual harassment.

By way of background, the ISM is the UK's largest non-union representative body for musicians with over 11,000 members, and is a financially independent, not-for-profit organisation with no political affiliation.

We, the undersigned, contend that the widespread extent of sexual harassment and discrimination makes music workplaces unsafe for many working in the sector and must be tackled. The solutions lie not just within the sector itself, but also at governmental level.

The ISM report makes the following recommendations, amongst others, to create safer workplaces:

  1. Amend the Equality Act 2010 to ensure that all those working in the music sector are protected, including freelancers, and provide clearer definitions around worker status.
  2. Reintroduce rights around third-party harassment to protect those who experience discrimination from audience members, clients, or customers.
  3. Reintroduce the use of discrimination questionnaires to make it easier to challenge potentially discriminatory behaviour at work.
  4. Extend the time limit for bringing discrimination cases from three months to six months.
  5. Implement the recommendations of the Women and Equalities Select Committee report into Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.

The UK is facing unprecedented challenges. As noted in the speech given by the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt on 17 November, growth forecasts have fallen in the UK. A core part of the recovery plan is to create more work opportunities, and the Chancellor’s speech emphasised core British values – compassion, hard work, dignity, and fairness.

As noted recently by Michelle Donelan, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the Government sees the creative industries as being key to growth. Hence, we believe that the changes outlined in the ISM report would not only protect the workforce but also promote productivity in the creative industries, which DCMS estimated to have contributed £116 billion to the economy in 2019.

It is estimated that discriminatory practices in workplaces cost the UK economy £127 billion in lost output every year, and that eliminating workplace discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity would result in the UK GDP increasing by 7%.

We ask the Government to adopt the recommendations of the ISM report as set out above. By taking steps to improve our sector, you will not only be helping to keep us, as workers, safer: you will be contributing to strengthening a world-leading industry. Our industry will be stronger if it is safer.


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