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News February 15, 2022

Warner Music launches Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Institute

Senior Journalist, B2B
Warner Music launches Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Institute

Warner Music Group has announced a Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Institute.

The group said it is the first of its kind in the music industry, and will serve as a hub of innovation, learning and action within the company.

The Institute will be home to several educational initiatives, including a rotating set of dialogue-based workshops where people at WMG “learn, grow, and reflect together on key aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion including anti-racism, ableism, homophobia, and sexism”.

It will also create “a critical forum to engage external expertise from a variety of perspectives” as the company works to fulfil its global DEI commitments.

External experts such as author Roxane Gay and Dr Mark Anthony Neal from Duke University will contribute to the program, and WMG has also partnered with the likes of OurRight Action International, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, National Disability Institute, Global Indigenous Council and the Global Fund For Women.

An Inclusive Leadership Series for executives will be led by experts Dr Stephanie Creary (Wharton School of Business) and Dr. Zoe Kinias (INSEAD).

WMG said these outside perspectives recognise the complex and systemic nature of social issues, and will help work towards education and collaborative solutions.

The Institute will also include a DEI Innovation Lab, which will accelerate new strategies to enhance equity, diversity, and inclusion internally, while providing opportunities for emerging leaders to showcase their skills and capabilities.

Employees will be invited to apply to pitch an idea for a new project or initiative related to DEI to a panel of DEI leaders. The panel will then select one to two projects bi-annually to support and help to identify a business sponsor.

Employees across the organisation will have the opportunity to apply to participate on the project team, enhancing cross-cultural and cross-business collaboration and continuing to help drive DEI changemaking.

WMG’s first global head of DEI, Dr Maurice A. Stinnett, said the institute was a ‘bold step’ towards inclusion, equity and lasting change.

“I am thrilled to partner with some of the most brilliant minds in our industry and culture to further develop our leaders and offer educational opportunities for everyone at WMG,” Stinnett said.

“As a company, we continue to reflect internally and build the roadmap ahead toward more equity and inclusion, and this Institute will help drive this imperative work. This isn’t a moment we are responding to; this is a commitment that will be baked into the fabric of our company and industry for generations to come.”

WMG CEO Steve Cooper said it’s not enough to just acknowledge problematic histories or the resulting discrimination and miseducation that remain in place.

WMG CEO Steve Cooper

“We’ve got to actively break them down and build up new, equitable, inclusive environments where all people can belong – and we’ve got to do it together. Enlisting a wide range of experts, thought-leaders, and innovators will help us continuously evolve a culture of education and empowerment for our people, artists, and songwriters around the globe,” he said.

The global DEI team is currently working across the company to build local implementation DEI plans, tailored to regional needs and challenges.

Locally, Warner Music’s SVP of promotions & publicity, Billy MacLeod, departed abruptly last year with little word on the reasons for his departure.

At the same time, local CEO Dan Rosen announced a number of changes to his A&R, marketing, promotions and commercial teams.

Dan Rosen

Local CEO Dan Rosen said the organisation is on a journey of becoming more diverse

Rosen said the important changes were part of WMA’s efforts to evolve the company and its culture.

“We will continue to evolve our team as we aim to achieve our mission and continue our journey to becoming a more diverse and equitable organisation, and a music company that’s more culturally relevant than ever,” he said to staff in July last year.

“I could not be more excited about our shared future ahead.”

WMG’s commitments, as announced in its Environmental Social Governance (ESG) report on February 1, are:

Diversity: We commit to building teams across all levels of WMG that reflect the diversity of the communities we work in and with.
Equity: We commit to promoting fairness and justice and addressing historical divergences in opportunity.
Inclusion: We commit to fostering a culture of belonging where each person can be their authentic self, valued for their unique contributions, and supported to grow.
Accountability: We commit to monitoring and disclosing data on ethnicity and gender representation across all levels of our company to help drive awareness and accountability where legally possible.

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