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Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, who has also contributed to numerous national business titles including Utility Week, the Municipal Journal, Environment Journal and consumer titles such as Classic Rock.
July 17, 2018

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Harassment and Discrimination

Musician groups launch anti-harassment code

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) and the Musician’s Union (MU) have launched a joint code of practice to help eradicate bullying, harassment and discrimination in the sector.

The joint code will help employers in the music business meet their legal requirements as well as setting out a shared vision for promoting and maintaining a positive working culture.

The code follows the publication of ISM’s Dignity at Work report in April, which found high levels of sexual harassment in the music sector, as well as bullying and discrimination.

A survey carried out for the report found almost two thirds of respondents (60%) had been subject to sexual harassment and the majority of this pool of respondents were female musicians.

The vast majority (86%) of respondents in the survey also agreed there should be a sector-wide code of conduct.

And 59% of respondents called for training on the subject of sexual harassment, inappropriate behaviour and discrimination.

ISM Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said the Dignity at Work report revealed a “culture of discriminatory behaviour, including sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination” across the entire music sector.

“The respondents, who were mainly self-employed, ‘depping’ musicians (and not covered under the Equality Act 2010), did not report their experiences due to fear of being victimised and ‘blacklisted’, indicates a toxic culture which needs to change,” said Ms Annetts.

“Following in the footsteps of the British Film Institute and UK Theatre/SOLT, who have both launched vital principles for the film and theatre industries, the ISM and Musicians’ Union have joined forces to launch a set of principles for the music sector. We call on all organisations – whether they are a venue, orchestra, school, recording studio or otherwise, to sign up and support this Code and ensure its implementation within the work space.’

The Assistant General Secretary of the Musicians’ Union, Naomi Pohl, added: “When the #MeToo movement began in late 2017, the MU established a confidential email account for musicians and other individuals working in the music sector to report instances of sexism, sexual harassment and abuse.

“The many reports we have received have been deeply concerning and range from everyday sexism, which appears rife across the industry, to sexual assault. It is clear to us that the culture of the music and entertainment sectors, as well as drama and music education, need to change radically. To put it bluntly, many workplaces simply aren’t safe for female musicians in particular at the present time.”

To read the Code of Practice in full, click here.

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