Magazine article Variety

U.S. Entertainment Companies Fail the Test in the U.K

Magazine article Variety

U.S. Entertainment Companies Fail the Test in the U.K

Article excerpt

Last week, all companies in the U.K. with more than 250 employees had to report their gender pay gaps - not by choice but under a new law backed by Prime Minister Theresa May. May has called the pay gap a "burning injustice" that she is determined to eliminate within a generation.

The entertainment industry, long used to playing by its own rules, has not come off well. The overwhelming trend is of double-digit gaps in average pay for men over women, and vast chasms when it comes to bonuses. Ironically, big U.S. entertainment giants such as Warner Bros., Universal Music, Turner Broadcasting and Disney have had to report these sorry figures for their U.K. units but not for their operations back home, where there is no such law. Perhaps their U.S. employees will now start demanding similar information.

Much of the media focus has been on the size of the salary gaps. But what really tells the story about ingrained gender inequality is the disparity in bonus pay (men receive 67% more than women at Warner Bros., 88% at Live Nation, 68% at Turner Broadcasting) and the disproportion of men - usually in the region of 70% - in the upper quartile of earners. Many companies explain their "uncomfortable" figures by saying the number of men in top-earning positions skews the overall figures. But that raises the question: How did you allow this situation to persist in the 21st century and not take measures to promote women into leadership roles?

A huge achievement of the new law is that more than 10,000 companies in the U.K. have suddenly had to take issues of gender equality seriously. There was genuine concern about reputational damage, and about having a bigger gap than a competitor. Some HR managers say the law has focused CEOs' minds on matters such as improved parental benefits and flexible working options.

Companies had to file a report that not only contained pay figures but outlined policies for closing the gap. These include Columbia Pictures committing to diversity and inclusion training, Warner Bros. offering unconscious-bias awareness training to managers and Universal Music providing coaching and mentoring. But few entertainment companies committed to a specific action plan or timeline for addressing their leadership gender imbalance. …

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