Desiree Perez has seen firsthand the harmful effects of gender inequality in the workplace.
As the CEO of Roc Nation, the global music, entertainment and sports management company, she understands the importance of creating pathways for women in the industry.
Perez, who founded Roc Nation with music icon Jay-Z, knows that changing the reality around gender in the music industry is essential for its future success.
A recent report by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California highlights the issues women and women of color face in the industry. Of the 4,060 executives surveyed, only 35.3 percent of C-suite leaders were women. Perez is one of only two women of color in top leadership positions among the top 70 music companies.
The Annenberg report has some startling and ominous insights, including:
Gender inequality is pervasive in the music industry. One study shows just 2 percent of music producers are female while a separate Annenberg study shows just 12.9 percent of songwriters are women.
Desiree Perez has outlined three ways that industry leaders can address gender inequity.
Familiarity breeds inequity. With executive positions dominated by men, those roles tend to be filled by men.
Businesses must commit to actively recruiting women into executive-level positions. Training programs must be in place to help women move forward in their careers. Specialized training will help position women for executive roles when positions become available.
Companies also need to provide support, resources and opportunities for women and provide equity training so that leaders of all types understand these disparities.
Leaders, of all genders, need to support and mentor women in the field. The industry needs to do more to create networking events that give women access to contacts that can drive career growth and opportunity.
Mentors can help women navigate projects, roles and negotiations. They can help with personal branding and training that help women break through barriers and achieve.
Partnering with nonprofit groups like Women in Music, which provide women with education, recognition and support, can also provide professional development and networking opportunities.
The Annenberg survey found three core drivers of gender inequality in the music industry: sexual harassment and objectification, ageism and male-dominated resources.
Desiree Perez believes the industry needs to do better. Companies need strong policies and to enforce them to create a safe space for women employees. Reporting needs to be easy while maintaining confidentiality and accountability. Staff need to be aware of policies and consequences with regular training and feedback mechanisms.
For Desiree Perez, the commitment to change is strong as she continues to lead the charge to bring a cultural shift to the music industry.