What do Michelle Obama, Jacinda Ardern, and Beyonce all have in common? They’ve each challenged the status quo in what it means to be powerful and authentic in their womanhood, and they advocate fiercely for the equity and advancement of women in EVERY industry.
Thankfully, they are in good company! For years, women across the world have fought steadily to be recognized as the leaders, experts and change-makers so many of them have been, and continue to be. This year as we welcome in another Women’s History Month however, the challenge is for us all to elevate. At Spotify, our charge is to go further than women being seen or even just heard: we want for you all (no matter which gender you identify with) to Flex Your Power to Listen to Women. This will require intention, action and awareness, starting with each and every one of us.
Listening Begins With Making Space
Let’s take a look at a few statistics: currently, only about 8% of Fortune 500 companies boast women CEOs. When we take a look at the audio industry, researchers from USC Annenberg found (in a study of popular songs from 2012 to 2018) that women make up 21.7% of artists, 12.3% of songwriters, and just 2.1% of producers. When looking at these stats, we must remind ourselves that the opportunity to truly flex our power to listen to women means that we must make the space for women to lead, to influence and to create in every industry. At Spotify (and many other companies) with Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) priorities, gender representation is measurable and normally the top metric that is reported. But we must do more! As we focus on representation, we must also amplify the voices of the women on our teams, provide opportunities to lead and create ecosystems that are priming women for success.
Consider All Women’s Experiences
Celebrating Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (March 8th) is an amazing chance to learn about the experiences and achievements of all women, especially those of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, as well as varying sexual orientations. This is intersectionality – the interconnected nature of social categorizations (such as race, class, and gender) as they apply to a given individual or group, creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage. The effects of intersectionality are often additive. For example, the lack of representation of women in leadership positions is compounded when we drill it down to women of color, and then compound even more than that when we account for Black women in leadership. As we set our intentions this month, let’s be sure to flex our power in listening to all women, regardless of their backgrounds and experiences. This is how we can truly amplify this cultural moment.
How We’re Amplifying Women’s History Month at Spotify
On the last two International Women’s Days, one of the initiatives we’ve focussed on is our annual event, The Nine Muses Festival, where we very firmly focus on creating a movement, network and inspiring women within the media and creative arts industries. However, as we move into the second year of this pandemic, we’re unable to create the face-to-face networking opportunities that are so important to the event. We are sad to miss it this year, but we’re very proud to see several other initiatives come to life at Spotify.
One important way that the Spotify team is influencing change this month is with the launch of EQUAL, our new commitment dedicated to fostering equity and inclusion for women in the audio industry. Launching on International Women’s Day (March 8th), this campaign will highlight women creators through various global partnerships, activations and content experiences. Internally, our Women@Spotify and Remix@Spotify Employee Resource groups have worked collaboratively to provide programming for all Spotifiers, such as visits from speaker and author Luvvie Ajayi Jones and academic, writer and lecturer Rachel Cargle. We’re also featuring performances by Brittney Spencer (one of Spotify’s Country Artists to Watch in 2021), hosting discussions about social media and its impact on diet culture, active listening, Pride stories and more. We can’t wait to expand our learning during this cultural moment both internally and on platform!
True Allyship is Intentional
Women’s History Month, much like most of the cultural moments celebrated at Spotify, is really a call to action and an opportunity for increased awareness. Former football player and author, Emmanuel Acho said it best: “true allyship demands that it move from conversation to action.” However, action looks different for us all and exemplifies our personal intention for how we want to contribute to change. In full transparency, allyship isn’t always perfect…we don’t have all of the answers. But allyship is purposeful and it evolves constantly. It’s the small decisions that we have to make every single day that allows for women to be seen, heard and listened to. We know that we will be listening today, all month, and into the future. Will you?