Major labels reveal latest gender pay gap figures and outline strategies to support female leaders

Major labels reveal latest gender pay gap figures and outline strategies to support female leaders

The major music companies have published their gender pay gap figures for 2023-24 and revealed how they will continue to tackle the issue in the year ahead.

The latest snapshot (for April 5, 2023) figures were due to be published by all eligible companies and organisations with 250 employees or more by the end April 4, 2024. It marks the seventh year of gender pay gap reporting. 

The cause of the pay gap is not unequal pay – that would be illegal – but the fact that fewer women hold senior roles in many companies across the UK. 

These latest figures follow the publication of a report by MPs into misogyny in music earlier this year.

Read on for the latest results from the major music companies….


The market-leading major has published its latest figures on the pay gap and an accompanying report signed by Andrea Pattico, the recently appointed chief people, inclusion & culture officer, and Peter Wheeldon, SVP people, inclusion & culture at UMG.

According to the latest snapshot, the median gender pay gap at Universal Music UK is 24.4% – meaning that women earn 76p for every £1 that men earn when comparing median hourly pay across the company as a whole. 

When comparing the mean (average) result, the gender pay gap is 25.9%.

The median pay figure is a slight improvement (25% in 2022-23), while the mean figure for pay has got slightly worse compared to the prior year (25.6%). 

For bonuses at Universal, women’s median bonus pay is 53.9% lower than men’s (57.2% in 2022-3), while the mean (average) gap for bonuses is 56.1% (61.8% in 2022-23). While 80% of men received a bonus, the figure was 78% for women

Across the company, women occupy 31% of the roles in the upper pay band and 41% in the upper middle.

“We made real progress in 2022 which was maintained in 2023 including increasing the overall number of women in the business from 43% to 45%, providing development and coaching support for senior women promoted to lead business units and achieving a gender-balanced pipeline of junior talent,” said the report from Universal Music UK. “However, we have made less progress in the number of females represented in the upper middle quartile and upper quartile.

“The reality is that our pay gap is likely to remain flat until such time that more females progress into the upper middle and upper quartiles, and this must continue to be a priority area.”

Universal Music said that it had continued to embed the actions taken in 2022 to increase the number of women in teams where they are under-represented. It has also made changes to benefits.

Three main actions for the next 12 months are:

Training for hiring managers

Universal said it has a “balanced pipeline of talent for entry and emerging level roles”, but that this is not fully reflected at the upper middle and upper quartiles. Recent efforts have included the introduction of balanced shortlists and interview panels at director level and above. 

In addition, the major will be introducing ‘inclusive interviewing’ as part of a new suite of mandatory diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging training for employees and managers. This is currently in pilot stage with plans for a full launch from January 2025.


Based on feedback gathered from senior women over a five-month period, UMG reported a desire for more connection across business units. For International Women’s Day 2024, 164 people from across the business were able to make new connections that it is hoped will provide support both professionally and personally. “We will build on this theme of empowering valuable connections and support following collation of the feedback from senior female leaders in 2022 and 2023,” said the company.

Improving exit interview process and data

Finally, Universal said it is building improved and more consistent systems for capturing the feedback and experiences of people who do leave the business.  


Sony Music UK has reported a median gender pay gap of 12.5% for 2023-24, while the mean (average) pay gap is 17.5% – the lowest to date for the major.

The figures represent an improvement on the company’s gender pay gap for 2022-23 (15.9% median and 20% mean).

For bonus pay, the gender pay gap is 24.2% for median (22.6% in 2022-23) and 49% for mean (49.4% in prior year). More women (89.2%) received a bonus than men (80.7%) at Sony Music UK.

The proportion of women in senior pay levels at Sony Music is close to balanced – 48.4% in the upper pay quarter and 46.3% in the upper middle.

Sony Music has also reported its ethnicity pay gap figures, which show a median pay gap of 23.8% (bonus 30.7%) and a mean pay gap of 13.2% (5.8% bonus). According to its report, 25% of employees are Black, Asian or from other minorities.

Sony Music UK’s reports are signed by CEO & chairman Jason Iley and Liz Jeffery, VP, people experience.

“Closing our gender pay gap remains a company priority and we are working at all levels of the business to try to improve balance, strengthen our talent pipeline and better support female leaders,” stated the report.

“This year we are reporting a reduction in both our mean gender pay gap – our lowest mean gap to date – and our median gender pay gap. In the past financial year, the proportion of women receiving a bonus was greater than the proportion of men receiving one, and we are pleased to see a reduction in the mean bonus gap from last year’s report. Eligibility of bonuses is based on several factors including hire date and contract status.

“In the past year we appointed more women into senior positions, which is reflected in the higher upper quartile number. We have also seen improvement in the lower middle quartile following a number of promotions.”

Sony Music UK outlined a series of approaches and policies including a childcare support package it’s proud to describe as “landmark”, as well as a formal equal parental leave offering.

It continues to offer policies that help support women, such as flexible working and core hours, and other recent policies such as those covering support for menopause, pregnancy loss, domestic abuse and neo-natal leave.

In 2024, Sony strengthened its existing menopause support through provision of greater specialised medical care, introduced reproductive health support for employees and their partners as well as provision of greater access for neurodiversity diagnosis and care.

Other initiatives include: 

Senior leader support

Sony offers executive coaching to women in leadership positions, and has a “strong record” of promoting from within wherever possible. In the past calendar year, of the promotions that were available, 51% were awarded to women. In addition, natural turnover among women (when people choose to leave) is 4%, which is a 13% improvement compared to five years ago.

A&R Academy 

“We are committed to building a diverse pipeline of talent for our industry and that includes recruiting more women in traditionally male-dominated parts of our business and increasing the number of women artists on our roster,” said Sony Music. “Our A&R Academy, which trains young A&R executives embedded in each of our frontline labels, is a key part of this pledge. The current cohort is 75% women and our next intake is 100% women. Across our A&R programmes to date, we have retained 78% of recruits.”

Mentoring skills

PushFar is the company mentoring platform that facilitates mentoring across the business and reinforces other schemes to embed a learning culture. Sony also supports mentoring programmes for those looking to join the industry, including the Positive Influence programme with the Creative Mentor Network, and the 4th Floor Creative Academy programme in partnership with Small Green Shoots.

The major will continue to collaborate closely with employee network SWIM (Sony Women in Music), as well as the Sony Music parents and carers network, LGBTQ+ network (Freedom), the Neurodiversity network (SOUND) and Race and Ethnicity network (HUE).

In terms of the ethnicity pay gap, much of the company’s work in the past year has focused on improving internal data in order to build a more accurate picture, as well as implementing effective policies.

Sony Music’s UK Social Justice Fund has already committed more than $2.7 million to grassroots and nationwide organisations fighting racial injustice in the UK. 

As well as the previously mentioned A&R Academy and Mentoring & Skills programme, Sony Music offers a bespoke development programme for minority ethnic candidates who show leadership potential. In addition, the company will be offering a cohort of employees additional leadership development based on gaps identified in the pipeline.


Warner Music UK has issued an extensive report to accompany its latest gender pay gap figures.

The major’s overall gender pay gap increased at the mean (average) level increased by 1.7 percentage points to 39.4% in 2023-24, while the median figure was up 3.3 percentage points to 16.9% in 2023-24.

The median bonus pay gap is 9.2% (6.4% in 2022-23), while the mean bonus pay gap is 65% (55.8% in 2022-23). While 94% of men received a bonus, 87% of women had the same benefit.

Warner Music UK suggested that the snapshot reading from a year ago resulted from the leadership in place at the time, and that the impact of strategic changes made in March 2023 will show up in the next round of gender pay gap figures.

In the report introduction, Warner Music UK CEO Tony Harlow said: “I’m encouraged to see the increased diversity of our employees at the entry levels of the business: our future industry leaders. We’re building a team that reflects the world we live in, as well as the artists and fans who fuel our business, and I believe a diverse mix of voices will lead to better discussions, decisions and outcomes.”

Warner Music UK has reported gender balance in terms of employees. Across the upper middle and lower middle quartiles, female representation is 59% and 62% respectively. In the top earning quartile, it is 35%.

“At the lower quartile in particular, we have a high representation of females; whilst this increases our current gender pay gap, it more importantly will aid the diversification of the talent pipeline of the future and positively impact our future gender pay gap,” said the company’s report.

The WMUK mean ethnicity pay gap increased in 2023 from 5.6% to 9.6%, whilst the median ethnicity pay gap reduced to 22.7% (2022: 23.9%).

Across the company, 31% of people are from ethnically underrepresented groups. The major’s global Count Me In campaign encourages employees to participate in the collection of demographic data.

At Warner Music International, which separately reports its figures, the mean and median gender pay gaps reduced to 29.2% (2022: 38.4%) and 16.4% (2022: 24.3%) respectively.

WMI’s mean ethnicity pay gap reduced from 19.3% in 2022 to 18.4% in 2023. The median ethnicity pay gap also decreased to 19.6% (2022: 22.0%).

Warner Music UK outlined a series of initiatives to support gender diversity, inclusion and career growth:

Developing employees

The major is currently running a six-month A&R internship for women and non-binary individuals, with three positions across frontline labels. It has also increased the number of paid internship programmes within the business. Warner Music also works with organisations including Generator, Small Green Shoots and the Rio Ferdinand Foundation.

Career growth 

Spearheaded by Women of Warner and the People team, Leaders on the Rise brings female leaders together throughout the year at a number of events. One of the sessions held last year, Step Into Your power, led by executive coach Emma Hossack, focused on sharing knowledge and experience with junior team members on how to prepare for a promotion. More events are planned for 2024.

Flexible family policies

Warner Music has a new parental leave policy for children born after June 2023, which includes: 

– Up to 26 weeks’ full paid maternity/paternity leave

– Up to 12 months’ leave for all parents which no longer has to be shared with a partner

– Flexi working for four weeks before and after leave

– Childcare allowance for two years for all eligible employees

“Our progressive approach to parental leave takes gender out of the equation,” said Warner Music. “We are levelling the playing field, challenging the stereotypes about gender and parenting, and supporting employees as they raise a family. It’s a powerful investment in the long-term sustainability of our company and will fuel further progress in closing the gender pay gap.

“Our game-changing parental policy establishes Warner Music as a leader in this space and adds to the wide variety of benefits already on offer, from private medical, dental, critical illness and life insurance to emergency back-up care for children and elders through Bright Horizons, personalised one-to-one virtual tutoring sessions, family-focused meditation and online courses, and much more.” 

Warner Music is also continuing to address wellbeing in the workplace, including a dedicated wellbeing coach.

In 2023, other initiatives covered financial awareness, grief awareness, understanding your baby, parenting, sleep, nutrition, neurodiversity and more. 


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