Diversity In Cycling – Launch Event

To mark the launch of the DIVERSITY IN CYCLING report, we held an event at Look Mum No Hands! which brought to life the themes in the report.  On a hot, sticky summer’s evening, LMNH was packed with over 100 cyclists, male and female, from all backgrounds and all walks of life.  With nine speakers together with audience questions we massively over-ran, but despite this and the hot and crowded venue, people stayed for the duration of the talk and many stayed afterwards.  

Speakers included Biola Babawale of Velociposse who contrasted her experiences of cycling with her career in the white, male dominated arena of asset management.  Mani Arthur described his vision for forming Black Cyclists Network, while Junaid Ibrahim described his experiences in forming Brothers on Bikes.  Nasima Siddiqui, co-foudner of Wyndymilla spoke of her long experience in cycling and the impetus for founding Wyndymilla, a vibrant and innovative cycling brand with an inclusive ethos.  PJ Dulay of the Fireflies and Cicli Artigianali discussed the mystique and etiquette surrounding cycling and how this can sometimes be intimidating for newcomers.  Matt Kumar of Kingston Wheelers highlighted the key takeouts for KW and other London cycling clubs.

Special guest, former professional and cycling legend, Maurice Burton together with his friend Joe Clovis told of their experiences of racism in cycling during the 1970s and their pathway through through the sport culminating with Maurice acquiring De Ver Cycles and forming Team De Ver C.C.

Following an audience Q&A, the evening was brought to a close with the impassioned words of Yewande Adesida of SES Racing who, having earlier described her own pathway into the sport, encouraged others to take up the mantle. 

Hopefully this is just the beginning of what is a long overdue conversation within the cycling community.

Photographs by Calvin Cheung www.ccheungphotography.com

Diversity In Cycling – The Report

This project started as a conversation between my friend Mani Arthur and I.  Mani is British Ghanaian and I am a white guy.  We are both cyclists and we both shared the same observation: more people from Black And Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds seem to be taking up cycling as a sport, but not necessarily joining cycling clubs.  Overall, the sport of cycling looks very white.  

As a result of that conversation: two things happened: Mani decided to form Black Cyclists Network and I decided to write a report titled “DIVERSITY IN CYCLING”.  Originally the aim was to produce a brief discussion paper for my own club, Kingston Wheelers, but very quickly the report gained momentum, attracting over 60 contributions from riders of BAME backgrounds, including a number of Muslim riders, and securing the support of British Cycling, whose CEO Julie Harrington contributed the Foreword.

You can read more about British Cycling’s involvement here and read the report itself here.

Fundamentally, cycling is a sport anyone can enjoy and it is actually more accessible than many people perceive.  The report details challenges, but there is lots of positivity too.  Key themes revolved around representation and visibility, if cycling is seen to be diverse it will attract a more diverse pool of riders.  Telling more than one story is important.  The media often seen obsessed with the narrative that cycling is a hobby for middle class middle age white guys when the reality is that cycling is so much more and the “MAMIL” phenomenon is actually quite recent.  Key recommendations in the report include:

PROMOTE VISIBILITY (BUT BE AUTHENTIC)

If your club has members from BAME backgrounds, with their permission, include those members in any visual representation of club membership. This helps make BAME participation visible to others; consider deploying ambassadors as a point of contact.

If you do not have many BAME members or none at all, do not try to be something that you are not, but do promote your values: if you are open to all newcomers regardless of race and gender say so. We all have to start somewhere, but let’s make a start.

PROMOTE ACCESSIBILITY

Many larger clubs have different rides across the week with different start times. Not everyone can make 9am on a Sunday morning. Promote a range of options.  Provide context to cycling club culture, what it means to be in a club, to ride in a group and general dos and don’ts. 

BE INCLUSIVE

Inclusion is essential to diversity. It is not just about having BAME riders present but ensuring riders of all backgrounds feel included and visible. Work with others both within your club and the broader community to share knowledge and promote pathways. 

TELL MORE THAN ONE STORY

Challenge stereotypes that cycling is the preserve of middle-aged middle class men in Lycra.  It is not. Cycling in the UK and Europe has been traditionally a rural and working class sport that has grown so much its appeal is universal. Cycling is for everyone.

RAISE YOUR OWN RACIAL AWARENESS

Many white people are uncomfortable talking about race. That is because most of us are not equipped to have the conversation. Read, listen and learn. If one person stands out in a group, be aware they may feel an extra level of intimidation than any other newcomer.

MONITOR PROGRESS

Quantify your membership through capturing ethnicity data on joining/ renewal forms.  Monitor progress over time. Larger clubs and organisations should certainly do this.

Diversity in the Music Industry and the 30 Under 30 List

Andy Edwards poses some questions to consider in the wake of the 30 Under 30 diversity discussion

This article first appeared in the Record of the Day weekly magazine, but can also be viewed online here.

If it’s not the Oscars it’s the BRITS, if it’s not the Billboard Power 100 it’s Music Week’s 30 Under 30, the question of diversity within the music industry has boiled to the surface this year. In 2016 this is deeply troubling.

Music Week’s front cover featuring 30 people under 30, initially nominated by readers, and then finally selected by MW, was the latest lightning rod for this topic. If the next generation of executives cannot be truly diverse, what hope is there?

One criticism leveled at Music Week is that editorial judgment should have been exercised and a broader list of names proactively sought. Instead, Music Week reported on the candidates whose names had been put forward. Judging by the list of 108 names that did not make the final 30, the total list put forward was overwhelmingly white.

30under30

Perhaps any attempt to disproportionately select candidates of colour would have masked the real story and a much broader underlying problem? Music Week did report the facts whether we like those facts or not.

The counter list put forth by DJ Semtex is incredibly powerful. One person came up with 30 alternative names in a matter of hours, a list that was overwhelming colourful and brimming with talent. A further list from Complex made a similar point.

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What interests me most of all right now is to understand what is going on and why. In very broad terms, it strikes me the Music Week list is made up largely of what we would consider to be the “traditional” music business, whether that is corporates or established PR and management companies.

In contrast, Semtex’s list – while containing quite a few major label people – skewed much more heavily to the self-starters, the entrepreneurs, those with portfolio careers and the emerging music businesses – the blogs, the YouTube channels, the club nights, and so on. The same was broadly true of the Complex list.

Compilers of such lists have to consider a much broader range of job roles than ever before and a much broader range of organizations and career paths. What constitutes the “music industry” itself can be debated at length.

If the music industry is to reflect the wider world, what is that wider world? The last UK census in 2011 revealed that 13% of the UK population is non-white, but in London that percentage rises to 40%. Undeniably the industry is still overwhelmingly London-centric, which places even more emphasis on diversity within our industry. **

And what of the challenges of a London-centric industry? Moving to London was part of the attraction of being in the music industry, but with rents and property prices at an all-time high, does that also stifle diversity of a different kind? Factor in ever increasing levels of student debt and the problem multiplies. Some have said only the posh Home Counties middle class need apply – probably a blog post in itself!

So we as an industry need to ask ourselves some questions.

The Who and What Questions:

  • Who does the industry employ? What are the numbers by ethnicity?
  • What is the break down across sectors of the industry?
  • What are the emerging sectors that should form part of the music industry?
  • What are the ethnicity numbers by job role? Creative vs Business roles?
  • Does music genre play a role in determining the spread of diversity?
  • What are the conventions and processes that are restraining diversity?

The Why Questions:

  • Why do some jobs attract a more diverse range of applicants than others?
  • Why do people from certain backgrounds want to work in music?
  • Why do people from certain backgrounds not want to work in music?
  • Is the music industry attracting the right mix of people? What is the right mix?
  • Why do employers recruit in the way that they do?

There is a lot of soul searching to be done. Perhaps we all have to ask questions about our own journeys, experiences and motivations in order to make those connections with others. We should constantly question and challenge ourselves.

I grew up in a small town in the north of England. I remember a kid in the playground calling me “Jew Boy” because I had curly hair, a big nose and my Dad worked for a bank. I didn’t know any Jewish people at the time, but I did know what it felt like to be different and I have always been appreciative and inquisitive of people’s differences.

Working in the music business was an opportunity to do something different. I like being around crazy people, but really I’m the commercially focused sensible one. At Sony Music in the ‘90s, I was a Marketing Analyst. No one knew what I did and I always had to explain. So a part of me jumped for joy that the first name on the Music Week 30 under 30 list was an Analyst from Sony Music.

As an indie kid from up north, Sony was also an opportunity to expand my knowledge of black music. With colleagues such as Semtex, Matthew Ross, Adam Sieff and others I filled up on hip hop, soul and jazz. I was clueless but I learned.

Moving around the industry, one learns about the differing professions and tribes. You listen, learn and absorb. As the industry grows more complex a broader range of skills are required. It also means opening one’s eyes and ears to those with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives.

But this runs counter to the way in which the industry has traditionally organized itself. The “its who you know” mantra is self-selecting. A female colleague describing an iconic label she worked at recalled, “there was a certain type of person and you either fitted in or you didn’t”. Like attracts like.

On another occasion, when interviewing for an assistant role for a colleague, one candidate spoke enthusiastically about some work they had done for their local church. Afterwards, my colleague remarked “we don’t want her, she’s a bible basher”, completely misunderstanding the background and culture of the candidate.  Her comment would have been wrong had the candidate been white, but the candidate was a young black woman.  Church going is viewed very differently within the black community and especially so amongst younger age groups who consider going to church just as cool as going to a club.  Forty eight percent of London’s church goers are black.  This point was completely lost on my colleague who ended up hiring someone with a similar background to herself.   **

Some organisations deploy more sophisticated recruitment techniques such as competency based interviews or algorithms yet many tech companies have diversity challenges also. These techniques can also be self-selecting and if candidates are not attracted to certain industry sectors or roles, one has to ask “why?

This is not an easy process, whether that is on a macro level or a mirco level. Relaying back to personal experience, the best and most productive working relationships have always been those where I have worked with someone who is the polar opposite to myself. That might not necessarily make for an easy experience but it is always exciting, challenging and most of all delivers exceptional results.

The music industry has to grapple with a much bigger picture on a macro level. It is not just music; other creative sectors such as film, TV and publishing are facing similar issues. It seems no one is handling this well.

This is a topic that is already being hotly debated at UK Music board level for some time. The senior figures within our industry are already deeply concerned and are seeking to understand the issues and challenges, including some of the questions I have raised above.

There will be outreach, through UK Music and its members: the BPI, AIM, MPA, PRS, MMF and so on are all intending on surveying their memberships. Ged Doherty and Keith Harris are looking at this issue specifically. I would ask anyone reading this article to engage and retweet and spread the word. There will be more announcements to come. Watch this space and get involved.

@andyedwardsbiz

 

** NOTE – I have amended this paragraph from the first “polite” draft that was originally published to what actually happened.  Its been bugging me for a while that I did not write this authentically in the first place, but I am learning. (Feb 2018).