In a world pushing for equality, the numbers are a glaring reality check. Across the board, women are missing from the music industry. And I’m not just talking about the charts, festival lineups, and Grammy nominations, I’m talking behind the scenes, too—sales, marketing, and leadership. According to Women in Music, the gender divide across the entire industry is roughly 70% male to 30% female. Only 15% of the major labels are run by women, and 7% identify as having a role within sales/biz dev. And worst of all, those few are paid 30% less than their male counterparts.
When the population and talent are 50/50, why is the gender disparity so large? As a female executive in the audio industry, what can I do from both a personal and corporate level to help empower women and start to close this gap?
My attitude and approach toward upward mobility began shaping itself at a young age. When I was only 10, I got my first job at my dad’s real estate management company answering phones, organizing paperwork, etc. I carefully watched the female secretaries and office managers debate with my dad regarding business decisions and realized just because someone is the “boss” doesn’t mean they always have the complete 360 view of a business problem. The most important thing I learned there was not how to balance a bank statement, but that no matter who you are and what your job title is, if you put the business first and stand up for those decisions, you will succeed.
As a woman in the workplace, it’s easy to focus on the obstacles you face moving upwards in an organization. I get it—there are more men than women ahead of most of us as we climb the ladder. While we’re making progress, the change to 50/50 isn’t happening anytime soon. So in the meantime, what we can change is our approach. I am forever grateful to those secretaries because they taught me to operate with zero fear when going up against men—and more importantly, to make it about the business versus the gender dynamic. I want women to stop worrying about who they work for and begin to see their success being judged by the work itself.
From an industry perspective, and as I mentioned above, changing the percentage dynamics of male versus female will take time. The important work is to question the business norms that challenge women to be in these roles. I take it upon myself to question those norms at Pandora. I know from first-hand experience that my choice to be an executive, a wife and a mother of three puts more household burden on me compared to others (i.e., my single male counterparts or married but whose partners work at home). My role in changing this dynamic is to design my expectations for employees not around how you do the work but if it gets done.
Regarding my team, it’s come rather naturally. I oversee multiple departments which are mostly comprised of women—and this is because they are the best fit for the position. We work hard to build a diverse pool of candidates, but the truth is, my business philosophy tends to attract those who are looking to deliver and get home to their loved ones. I truly believe anyone on my team should be given the space to have a life, a family, a voice, and a purpose. I admit: I am not easy to work for, but I am fair and open to criticism. I guess that style just aligns best with many of today’s working women. I understand that this doesn’t necessarily translate to every company and every team, but we have to do a better job at supporting women as rockstars, in the workplace and at home.
On a corporate level, it is important for me to leverage the voice of Pandora For Brands to shine a light on all the incredible women in this field. Little by little we can bridge the gender gap by continuing to celebrate, learn from, and inspire each other. By sharing these stories, we are hoping to do our part in empowering the next generation of females to go for that sales job, start that podcast, and defend that business decision—all with zero fear.
Consumer demand for audio entertainment is growing faster than ever before, and to build for today’s audience, we need diversity of thought and voice. Female voices must be in the boardman and the studio to ensure we create and stream the music, podcasts, and news for us all.
And that’s why it’s time to *pass the mic*.