Our UK Task Force for Meaningful Change Manifesto

Universal Music’s UK Task Force for Meaningful Change (UK TFMC), which was set up in June 2020 in partnership with Universal Music Group’s global Task Force for Meaningful Change to be a driving force for social justice and equity, today issued its manifesto detailing its goals and tactics to achieve tangible and lasting social change.

The manifesto includes a partnership with The Black Curriculum on the organisation’s recently launched Springboard Programme, which will provide free out of school workshops teaching Black British history through the lens of music and the arts for young people aged 11-16 across Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, London and Manchester.

The UK TFMC focuses on the specific challenges that are unique to the Black community here in the UK.

The group is co-chaired by Motown UK’s marketing director Afryea Henry-Fontaine, EMI senior director, marketing, Fay Hoyte and Island’s Jade Richardson (covering co-chair) and includes staff from across the UK business including Adele White (Island), Alex Boateng (0207 Def Jam), Ayinde Gardiner (UMG), Charmaine Kuranchie (UMUK), Gus Jones-Donelly (Globe), Jade Bradshaw (Polydor), Jonathan Badyal (UMUK), Rebecca Muttu (Polydor), Shantelle David (UMUK international marketing), Sharlotte Ritchie (UMG), Stephen Wilson (Decca) and Tia Lewis (Capitol).

Throughout the process it has been imperative to the UK TFMC that every member of staff has had the opportunity to participate and have their say, ensuring the manifesto is a roadmap that speaks to, and for, all. The UK TFMC has examined how it can make an impact in local communities, the wider music industry and across the UK as well as internally. The resulting manifesto, which can be found in full below and HERE, includes five key areas:

• Boosting outreach work to help attract more Black candidates for a wider variety of roles at Universal Music;
• Driving change within the company through mentorship initiatives, an internal audit and building on our internal mental health initiative with ‘Black Minds Now’;
• Celebrating Black culture with the launch of Universal Music’s ‘Black Calendar’;
• Supporting education initiatives across the UK; and
• Building a unique infrastructure of support for Universal Music UK’s Black artists.

These areas include and build upon the numerous steps the company has already taken and implemented over the past nine months, including:

• Launching ‘Black Minds Now’ – culturally appropriate mental health support sessions led by a senior therapist and wellness practitioner, where our Black members of staff can meet on a monthly basis to gain mental health support and guidance
• Hosting a safe space for our Black artists to come together, share their thoughts and respond to recent events, which has helped to inform some of the key objectives in our manifesto
• Launching The Black Calendar – a curated programme to celebrate Black culture all year round and provide educational resources for all staff
• Launching Abbey Road Studios’ music production scholarship programme that will help two Black students complete an advanced diploma in music production and engineering followed by a year-long engineering work placement at the studios
• Partnering with the Richard Antwi Scholarship scheme to provide internships to Black and ethnic minority graduates
• Partnering with Caerus Executive to carry out a full and comprehensive strategic review of Black, Asian and ethnic minority inclusion and progression within the business.

The first stage of work will see the UK TFMC support a range of initiatives, beyond its ongoing work with The Black Curriculum (a social enterprise dedicated to addressing the lack of Black British history in UK schools) and their Springboard Programme (supported in partnership with Universal Music UK through support from Universal Music Group’s global Task Force for Meaningful Change). Other initiatives include: the MMF’s Unite programme supporting Black artist managers; Small Green Shoot’s The Young Shoots programme; and Pickni Uniforms, which provides free school blazers to families in need of support.

The manifesto is designed to assure accountability – as made clear by its engagement of Caerus Executive (to help the business take on a strategic approach to inclusion supporting lasting change). New scholarships and internship programmes will help change the future of the industry, whilst listening and therapy sessions with artists and employees, and a curated programme of informative activity on Black culture, will help make change.

David Joseph, Chairman & CEO, Universal Music UK, says, “I’m incredibly proud of the UK Task Force and the collective leadership they have shown. While we are clear that there is still much to do, I am confident that this manifesto will help bring about meaningful and lasting change and I look forward to working closely with the Task Force to implement the recommendations and actions in their entirety”.

Afryea Henry-Fontaine, Fay Hoyte and Jade Richardson, co-chairs of the UK Task Force for Meaningful Change, say, “We’d like to say a massive thank you to each member of the Task Force for their work in forming this manifesto and to all our colleagues across the Universal Music family who have offered their support, wisdom and advice along the way. This is just the beginning. We know there is no quick fix but believe this manifesto and a collective effort across the company will help bring about real change”.

Dr. Menna Demessie, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of Universal Music Group’s global Task Force for Meaningful Change says, “Supporting initiatives like The Black Curriculum demonstrate the critical need to not only bridge gaps in education, but empower young people to make visible the historical impact of Black people through music to future generations. The Task Force’s mission to be a driver for racial equity and social justice can be realized through such efforts.”

Read the full manifesto here:

Recent Tweets