What can the classical music industry do to diversify its administrative structure?
14 March 2018, Royal Over-Seas League, London
19 March 2018, Idagio GmbH, Berlin
We recently had our second Noted Roundtable in Berlin, which was a truly engaging event.
Inspired by International Woman's Day on 8 March, we spoke about minorities in the classical music industry, focusing on those backstage (rather than on stage) and in administrational roles, covering gender, race, educational background, and more.
The event was hosted by WildKat PR and co-hosted by Idagio GmbH, and we would like to thank all participants and partners for a passionate and highly insightful debate.
Attendees included representatives from the music industry, humanities organisations, public relations, representatives from other industries such as the automobile industry and an arts blogger, all of whom were eager to find solutions and share their experiences.
Our aim was to bring people from different backgrounds together and encourage debate in order to find solutions to the question of how we can diversify the administrative structures of the classical music industry, and to include more minorities.
We realised quickly how complex and far-reaching these problems actually are - starting with the difficulty of defining aspects of diversity, particularly within different organisations.
Our discussion became particularly intense when we spoke about how to ensure diversity in hiring practices and how the classical music industry can attract a more diverse range of applicants into administrative roles.
All agreed that it was exceptionally difficult to receive applications from people with different educational or social backgrounds as it is still too easy for employers to hire from a big pool of applicants, all fitting a traditionally sought-after profile.
Clearly, any company within any sector should strive to hire more diversely in order to generate more creativity amongst their teams, to try out new and innovative ideas and find new solution to new and often complex challenges as their industry develops.
From this, the importance of phrasing in job advertisements came to light. We figured that if we want to adopt positive discrimination hiring practices, we have to formulate a well-directed and cautiously formulated post that may focus more on applicants' motivations towards a topic or role, on soft-skills that can be turned into hard-skills along the way and on giving organisational culture more importance rather than posting check-lists that are purely based on educational backgrounds. So, language could open the market!
A more diverse range of applicants can also be reached by publishing advertisements on job listing sites aiming to place certain people such as diversity-jobs.de. Or how about employing a more diverse set of interviewers, create and use a specific standard evaluation system or take advantage of new diversity recruiting tools like Entelo or Textio?
"Become comfortable with the uncomfortable, the new and the different, until differences have become the norm" - a basic premise we think organisations within the classical music industry in Germany and further afield should implement within their staff structures, as there is still a lot of room to grow and for improvement.
The next big question to answer was how women can diversify the sector even more, helping and supporting other minority groups?
An important dimension lies in gender empathy. We discussed an example about a staff member with a speaking disability. She couldn't take part in an ordinary interview process but had the confidence to apply anyway, and with confidence in her skills convinced the employer via a written interview. She went on to become an excellent and indispensable addition to the team and is highly respected and valued by her fellow workers.
Examples like these show that there is a need for employers and CEOs to open up their traditional hiring structures in order to allow new approaches to be trialled and to give applicants the confidence to apply for roles that don't immediately suit their profile bit by bit.
Hiring diverse as a marketing tool is just one dimension. It is important to reflect und define the concept of diversity and what it means for each organisation individually in order to figure out what is needed to enable and implement diverse hiring.
We also spoke about mentoring programmes for staff and entire teams such as Female Future Force. A positive group dynamic of mutual assistance can highly increase team interaction, productivity and well-being at work.
Next question: What could male-led companies do to bring in more female employees? We all liked the idea of a quota, at least to initiate the change. This might seem forced and uncomfortable at first but over time a male-female quota could start a domino effect and hopefully, in years to come, quotas might not be needed anymore as a gender balance would not be unusual.
Overall, we came to the conclusion that in order to implement more diversity into administrational structures in the classical music industry, adapting and developing hiring processes is one option. Another suggestion urges employers to understand that innovation and forward-thinking can only come through diversity and inclusion. Putting these elements into practice might look different from one organisation to another, but the important first step is to dismantle hierarchies and to create an environment that allows for change to happen.
Again, a huge thank you to Idagio GmbH for hosting us in their Berlin office. We're sure that you know them already but if you have somehow missed this impressive, sleek streaming platform for all things classical music, do check them out here.
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Your Noted Team