Women and Equalities Committee report on misogyny in music
A “shift in the behaviour of men” in the music industry is needed to better safeguard women, MPs have heard.
Caroline Nokes MP made the comment as the Women and Equalities Committee released its second report into misogyny in music.
In June 2022, the Women and Equalities Committee opened an Inquiry into the topic, aimed at investigating the pervasive misogynistic attitudes that women working in the music industry face. As part of their investigation, the Committee have heard evidence from a variety of industry members, all of which have noted concerns relating to gender discrimination, sexual harassment and power imbalances throughout the industry.
You can read my previous blog on the Women and Equalities Committee latest oral evidence hearing here.
Following an influx of written evidence submissions, the Committee has released its second report. It makes a series of recommendations to the Government focused on improving protection and reporting mechanisms, and proposing structural and legislative reforms. This blog will focus on three such recommendations.
Retrospective moratorium on non-disclosure agreements
In its latest report, the Committee discussed the distressing testimonies of victims who were ‘threatened into silence’ through the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). NDAs prohibit parties from sharing specified information, and are often used in cases of sexual harassment and abuse, to prevent victims from speaking out about their experiences.
The Committee’s report found that NDAs not only have a negative impact on victims’ mental health, but also their future employment within the industry.
Victims described that they were unable to secure employment following the use of NDAs, as they were unable to answer questions about their previous experience.
In light of this, the Committee recommends a retrospective moratorium should be considered for those who have previously signed NDAs, including an assurance that they cannot be pursued for cost recovery if they choose to speak out about sexual misconduct, or bullying and harassment that they have faced.
Protection from third party harassment
During a discussion on legislative reforms, the Committee examined the amendments made to the Worker Protection Act 2023, which imposes a preventative duty on employers to protect worker from sexual harassment in the workplace.
The original draft of the Act contained a provision aimed at safeguarding workers from harassment by third parties, i.e. non-employees.
The Committee highlighted the significant impact that the provision would have on deterring inappropriate behaviour in the music industry, and scrutinised its removal from the Act, calling upon the Government to reconsider legislating in this area.
Academic strategy to tackle misogynistic attitudes
In their conclusive remarks, the Committee highlighted their support for the Office for Students’ proposed new conditions of registration, aimed at protecting students from harassment and sexual misconduct.
This new condition would require universities and colleges to publish a single document explaining the steps that it will take to protect students from misconduct, as well as its reporting, investigative and training measures.
The Committee noted that “educating boys and men on misogyny and consent, how to respect and better support women, and to recognise the additional challenges they face” would prove more powerful than any of the measures set out in their report.
Committee Chair, Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP notably stated that “a shift in the behaviour of men – and it is almost always men – at the heart of the music industry is the transformative change needed”, before calling upon the government to introduce a new strategy in schools aimed specifically at tackling the issues of misogynistic attitudes and gender-based violence.
In addition to the three recommendations outlined above, the report outlines further changes that should be made to protect women against the “endemic misogyny and discrimination” that exists within the music industry. You can read the full report here.
If you have been the victim of any form of abuse, harassment, or bullying at work, we encourage you to reach out to Bolt Burdon Kemp for a free and confidential conversation with one of our experts.