This year the BPI celebrated International Women’s Day on 8th March by launching the ‘BPI Equality Sessions’, with a two hour webinar celebrating the women that power the music industry.

Paulette Long, co-chair of the BPI’s Equality & Justice Advisory Group, opened with an emotive, inspiring and hard-hitting keynote. With the theme of International Women’s Day, ‘Choose to Challenge’, she ended posing the questions: What are you doing today to bring about change? What are you doing tomorrow, in the next week? Let’s be the change that makes the change.

The first panel, ‘Reaching Music Industry Heights’, was chaired by another member of the Equality & Justice Advisory Group, broadcaster and journalist, Jasmine Dotiwala. Jasmine was joined by Liz Goodwin (General Manager, Atlantic Records UK), Maggie Crowe, OBE (Director of Events & Charities, BPI), Pat Carr (Founder and CEO, Remove Control Agency), and Taponeswa Mavunga (Director of Africa, Sony Music UK). During this 40 minute panel, each of the speakers shared their personal experiences of times they challenged the system and environment around them, recalling pushing through the glass ceiling, and remarking on how much the industry has changed.

Topics addressed included how to manage and maintain good mental health, have a good and sturdy ‘scaffolding’ of a support system, how important it is to open up to more people at a senior level, and how to gently call out casual sexism. In a world where it is so easy to be self-critical, when asked what advice she’d give her younger self, Taponeswa answered, ‘I’d go back to that young Tapi and give her a hug, I did the best I could, knowing what I know’.

Concluding the panel, Jasmine posed questions to the audience: How can you accelerate change in the music industry that is already hectic and fast paced? How and why is this a priority, and are there safe spaces in your companies for people to do this? And when it comes to music awards, are you putting the women artists forward?

The second panel, titled ‘Working for the Greater Good’, was chaired by PR & Comms consultant of Indypendent PR, Indy Vidyalankara, who also sits on the Equality & Justice Advisory Group. Indy was joined by Janine Irons MBE, Co founder and CEO of Tomorrow’s Warriors, Natalie Wade, Founder and CEO, Small Green Shoots, Pamela McCormick, Founder and Director, Urban Development and Wozzy Brewster OBE FRSA, Founder & Executive Director, The Midi Music Company.

They all shared stories on their work with young people, in particular with those who face barriers to entry in the music industry. Wozzy Brewster saw a gap in technology and used that knowledge to equip and upskill young women, while Janine noted the gaps in accessibility, and talked of taking artists into schools to inspire the younger generation to show that there was a possibility to having a career in the music industry. Similarly, Pamela recalls the support Urban Development gets from the industry, noting that the industry is seeing the need to support the talent development pipeline. Working for the greater good goes further than inspiring the next generation. Natalie Wade also runs Cats Mother, a mentorship scheme to help women in the music industry move laterally.

The two hour webinar celebrated the women that power the music industry, and it was great to see feedback and reaction from both participants and audience members.

More BPI Equality Sessions are due to be announced later in the year.

With thanks to Meenal Odedra for writing up.