IMPALA publishes third equity, diversity and inclusion report

IMPALA publishes third equity, diversity and inclusion report

IMPALA has published its third equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) report, reflecting on the organisation's ongoing work in this area.    

Issued on the third anniversary of IMPALA's equity, diversity and inclusion charter, the report is prepared by IMPALA's taskforce, chaired by Eva Karman Reinhold and advised by Keith Harris.

Key highlights from the report include:

Business case for taking action: The report looks at IMPALA's ongoing work in developing the business case for taking action, with member companies !K7 and Epitaph Europe talking about adopting change and how it had impacted their businesses positively.

Tackling diversity fatigue: IMPALA's report also acknowledges that there is still work to be done and flags in particular the question of fatigue, with practical suggestions about how to overcome this. 

Upcoming survey: Members are invited to have their say on what IMPALA's survey will focus on next year. This survey is being run during European Diversity Month in May, two years on from the first survey IMPALA publication.

Allyship in the industry: A guest post by the equality and diversity ambassador Saskhia Menendez talks about allyship in the music industry, the practice of supporting and advocating for individuals in the workplace for example.

Training and advocacy: IMPALA's free EDI training programme aims to provide individuals and organisations with practical tools and knowledge. IMPALA also posted the final episodes of the 20MinutesWith podcast series and paid tribute to the late Juliana Koranteng, founder and curator of the project which helped put the spotlight on work around equity, diversity, and inclusion. 

Mental health: IMPALA, together with the MENT Festival and Conference in Ljubljana, organised a panel discussion on mental health in April 2023 to raise awareness about improving the working conditions of managers and employees in music companies. IMPALA also awarded the late Tony Duckworth with its Outstanding Contribution Award for his services to the development of the network of independent record companies in the Central and Eastern European region.

Shining a light on the sector's work: The report profiles examples of how the sector has mobilised. This includes, for example, Merlin Engage, the MEWEM mentoring programme, as well as !K7 Music's social project with a Berlin school.

Awards: IMPALA ran the second edition of the awards introduced in 2022, 100 Artists to Watch with YouTube and the Changemaker Award honouring the work of Women In Ctrl, by underlining its commitment to promoting diversity and change in the industry.

Streaming reform: The report also points to the importance of considering issues of equity and diversity, and flags Ben Wynter's contribution on this, as well as proposals in IMPALA's streaming plan. 

The full report is available via the IMPALA site.

Eva Karman Reinhold, the chair of SOM and chair of IMPALA’s EDI taskforce, said: “We have made great strides in highlighting the business case for diversity and inclusion, but I’m especially proud of IMPALA’s long-term commitment, as real change takes time. The importance of effective communication strategies was also underscored at our recent free training session for members, and our annual reports will help us measure development. 

“With the Changemaker Award we get to put the spotlight on some of all the amazing initiatives for change in the music sector, and this year's winner Women In Ctrl do some really inspiring work on gender equality. Another highlight was the 100 Artists to Watch programme, created in collaboration with our Friend of IMPALA YouTube, which showcases Europe's diverse musical landscape. Last but not least, I would like to pay tribute to our #20MinutesWith podcast curator and host Juliana Koranteng, an amazing person whose service and sacrifice for a more diverse music landscape will be remembered.”

We have to keep up the pressure to bring about a much fairer and inclusive creative industries landscape

Keith Harris

Keith Harris, adviser to IMPALA’s equity, diversity and inclusion task force, said: “It is all too easy to let equity, diversity and inclusion slip down the agenda, especially with the anticipated pushback from many establishment media and organisations who are quite happy with the status quo, who don’t want change to dilute their dominant position. We do however have to keep up the pressure to bring about a much fairer and inclusive creative industries landscape. 

“IMPALA has initiated a long-term structural change in the field of equity, diversity and inclusion in the independent music sector. As we know, any change requires patience and perseverance. This report highlights many interesting projects that serve as examples and signposts to inspire and learn from each other. It is important to promote and support these initiatives, also with a view to developing the business case for diversity and inclusion. I encourage everyone to do two things over the next 12 months. First, focus on their communications and let everyone know about their work in this area. Secondly, take part in the upcoming IMPALA survey, which will be conducted during European Diversity Month in May 2024.”

Horst Weidenmüller, CEO & owner at !K7 Records, said: “Equity, diversity and inclusion are not just values; they're the very essence of our music business in today's dynamic landscape. By embracing and nurturing a diverse workforce, we're not just opening doors; we're building bridges to undiscovered talent and untapped markets. With this comes our greatest strength, a harmonious symphony of ideas, perspectives and voices, which in turn composes a more vibrant, responsive, and forward-thinking industry, enriching our music, our business, and our world.”

Roger Dorresteijn, general manager at Epitaph Records, said: “In a famous interview Nina Simone speaks about the artist’s duty to reflect the times. That same responsibility speaks directly to us as a music sector. Equity, diversity and inclusion have been the drivers of social change. By taking on the moral obligation to take part in that process, it’s proven that it goes hand in hand with becoming better and more profitable. Our label has experienced this in practice over the past years: step by step adapting our company structure and improving our hiring policy, this opened up new opportunities, expanded our artist roster, and made our team more creative and flexible.”

Jörg Heidemann, CEO, VUT, said: “The simple messages about how the sector can make changes and the practical tips provided in these training sessions have struck a powerful chord among ourselves and our members. Inclusivity and diversity are not just about hitting the right notes, it’s about trying to deliver real equity on the ground and understanding how this benefits businesses with more innovation, harmony and relevance for our industry.”

“We are delighted to share our third report and highlight the business case and examples of positive action in the sector," said Helen Smith, executive chair at IMPALA. "This report is also the opportunity to flag the challenges we face especially as regards fatigue generally and illustrate what our task force is focussing on. All members can check out our guidance on what they can do in a very practical way. This includes ideas on the smallest of adjustments that can be made, as well as simply filling out our survey in May next year, and checking out the business case for taking action. The testimonies in our report speak volumes.”


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