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Equality and Diversity in Music

Equal opportunities to all members

The trade union movement in the UK grew from a belief that, when united, the minority can have the voice of the majority. Representing workers from every section of society regardless of their cultural background, sex, age or sexual orientation lies at the very heart of what we do.

The Musicians’ Union (MU) is committed to achieving equality for all musicians, and continues to celebrate the diversity of the music industry and raise awareness of equality issues through the work of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion  Committee.

The Musicians’ Union is dedicated to representing the diversity of its membership.

John Shortell, Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion Official

What does equality & diversity mean?

Equality is not about treating everybody the same. It goes without saying that everybody should be treated fairly and equally regardless of their race, sex, sexuality or any of the other protected characteristics. That said, treating someone fairly can sometimes mean having to treat them differently to take into account their circumstances and enable them to participate on equal terms.

A musician with full sight, for example, does not require Braille scores, or a Trans musician may need extra support whilst transitioning that a cisgender musician will not. Equality is about levelling the playing field so everybody has access to the same opportunities. 

Diversity is about recognising individual as well as group differences, and aims to create an inclusive culture for all. Diversity values and respects people’s differences to ensure everybody’s needs and requirements are met. Supporting diversity in music could be something as simple as changing the music you teach so you’re not only teaching white European composers or making sure your rehearsal space is accessible to musicians with disabilities.
See all protected characteristics. 

Why does this matter?

Equality and diversity leads to more innovation and more opportunities for everyone, and better access to talent. Working with people from different backgrounds and with different experiences allows us to learn and get a new perspective.

The benefits of Equality and Diversity are clear but this doesn’t mean embracing equality and diversity is easy. The MU works with a range of members and organisations to ensure best practice is highlighted, implemented and adhered to regarding equality and diversity issues. 

What can you do?

The MU is committed to building a membership that truly reflects the diversity of musicians working in the UK with the aim of having parity of representation across our membership.

A full and diverse membership is essential to effect change and create a music industry where every individual is given an equal chance to achieve their potential, free from prejudice and discrimination.  

If you are passionate about bringing about change and tackling discrimination, do sign up for one of our Equalities Networks.  If    you’d like to discuss any other matter related to music and equal rights at work, contact John Shortell on 020 7840 5506 or email equalities@themu.org.

Equalities news

In this blog, Norton York – RSL Awards Founder and Chairman – talks about how working with the MU helped focus RSL’s efforts on diversity and inclusion.

Contemporary art exam board RSL have announced a new classical piano syllabus – the first of their new series of classical syllabi – and it is inclusive of the rich diversity of music teachers and students.

MU Deputy General Secretary Naomi Pohl looks at the role misogyny plays and creating safe workplaces for women.

Conductor and composer Ben Lunn discusses how we need to celebrate “the disabled musicians and artists who exist,” whilst, “making sure disabled people can live in dignity and safety and are able to pursue whatever profession they desire to.”