UKAN and Content is Queen launch phase two of Equality in Audio Pact at The Podcast Show

Organisers say they are “not accepting token gestures or surface level changes”

The UK Audio Network and podcast community Content is Queen have launched phase two of the Equality in Audio Pact at The Podcast Show, asking production companies to make equality a reality and no longer just a goal. 

Head of UKAN Laura Blake and Content is Queen CEO and founder Imriel Morgan took the stage this afternoon at The Podcast Show to talk about DEI in the podcast industry. This follows last week’s announcement that Content is Queen was postponing the International Women’s Podcast Festival due to a "lack of funding and support" from the industry. 

“I do not want to be standing here today and saying what I have to say, and I’m furious that I have to step into the role of the angry Black woman, but my rage and anger is shared so deeply between marginalised professionals in the industry,” said Morgan. “We cannot forget that while our industry is new, it’s significant. We have to challenge the status quo to demand change.”

“I’m not just numbers on a page… We all made pledges and many of you signed your names - we are not accepting token gestures or surface level changes.” 

The session began with a new survey from UKAN that reported on the average salaries of employees in the audio industry, comparing them from 2020 to February 2023 and showing that BIPOC and women creators are now being paid less. As of 2023, BIPOC creators are being paid 5% less compared to two years ago, and nearly 21% less than white creators overall.

Additionally, the highest absolute day rate of a woman was £1,000 according to the survey, which is half of what the highest absolute day rate of a man is. Non-binary people are even paid significantly less than that, with their highest absolute day rate being £350. 

"We've heard anecdotes from production company owners who say that DE&I isn't working properly because of the skills gap [because of societal reasons]," Blake told PodPod, "so now they just hire the best person regardless... which isn't great."

Following the results of the survey, Phase Two of the Equality in Audio Pact asked the industry to take action and follow through on DEI pledges that were signed in Phase One of the pact, which included paying interns, hiring more BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and other minority people, releasing race pay gap data, not participating in panels that aren’t representative of the cities and towns they’re in, and being transparent about who works for their company. Signers of Phase 1 included a number of major audio players such as Acast, Spotify, BBC, Gimlet, iHeart, and more. 

Phase Two of the pact also includes new branding and a new website designed to keep signatories more accountable, as well as certification that labels the companies as either registered, members, or partners. UKAN and Content is Queen are also planning on making the pact more global by partnering with other companies such as editaudio, whose CEO Steph Colbourn also joined the stage at The Podcast Show. 

“We want equality to be a global thing and we essentially want companies in different regions to be those bullies,” said Blake. 

There will also be a new initiative from UKAN and Content is Queen called Soundstage, that will aim to provide training and courses to BIPOC and LGBTQ+ audio creators and producers to increase the representation of marginalised professionals. 

Lastly, Morgan announced that there will be an open letter released tomorrow from Content is Queen to the audio industry, which will be talking about the industry’s lack of commitment to DEI promises.