Alicia Keys Says Hiring Women Should Be Standard, Not the Exception

Alicia Keys Says Hiring Women Should Be Standard, Not the Exception

December 13, 2019

Billboard magazine honored Alicia Keys with its Impact Award today and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, she's hoping to "shift the numbers" so that women behind the scenes of music and the entertainment industry at large are hired just as often as their male counterparts. During a brunch to celebrate her new award, Keys spoke to Billboard's Gail Mitchell about the She Is the Music initiative, which has grown to become the largest database for hiring women in the music industry.

"If I want to find a female lighting designer, how can I find that person? If I want to find a female sound engineer, how can I find that? If I want to find a female business manager or female lawyer," Keys said.

She explained that before She Is the Music, people stuck to what they knew, so everyone would recommend the same people over and over — and it was generally a man.

Alicia Keys Billboard x Amex Impact Brunch

"I think what happens is people get used to working with who they're used to working with, and then you go and ask for a recommendation and they've been used to working with John for 100 years, so John gets recommended," Keys continued. "It's not that Lucy or Terry shouldn't be recommended, but we get into this systemic style of how we operate. We just get used to it, as opposed to starting to break it and think out of the box and be conscious about the choices that we're making."  

The Hollywood Reporter adds that Keys is doing her part. When she hosted The Late Late Show with James Corden, she brought women from She Is the Music to shadow the "stage manager, associate music producer, and head writers" so that they could get some real-life experience.

"It's happening, it's a real thing, because women get it done," she said. 

Keys said that she was inspired to start the organization after she found out that women made up only 17 percent of artists on Billboard's Top 100 and 12.3 percent of songwriters. The numbers made her take a closer look and take action.

She hopes that eventually, there will be a time where hiring women and women of color isn't a novelty and is just standard operating procedure. Eventually, she says, the industry will see it as normal, so "it's not so unusual that, 'Wow, there's two women on the board! And one of them is black!' It's bullshit."

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