According to Pew Research, women in majority-male workplaces report higher rates of gender discrimination. And women are nearly three times as likely as men to say their gender has made it more difficult for them to succeed in their place of work.
The woman in the following story is part of that percentage, as she’s claiming she was unfairly treated at her former job at Spotify. Now, she’s suing the company for gender discrimination and defamation. Here’s her story.
Spotify, the popular music streaming service developed by Swedish company Spotify Technology, was publicly launched in 2008. Since then, it has gone on to become a company with more $1 billion in annual revenue. Spotify made its U.S. debut in July 2011 as a Facebook application and has since included heavily integrated social features like shared tracks and messaging between users.
Unlike physical or download sales, which pay artists a fixed price per song or album sold, Spotify pays royalties to artists based on a proportion of total songs streamed. With their subscription base growing by the day, Spotify has increased its staff from 311 in 2011 to 2,162 in 2016. That number is even higher today.
Spotify Is Being Sued
In a recent lawsuit, Spotify is being sued for gender discrimination. A former employee alleges that the company orchestrated “boys’ trips” full of drugs and strip clubs and partying. The sales executive also admitted that the company regularly passed over women for promotion.
According to Variety, a sales executive, Hong Perez, filed a lawsuit in New York Supreme Court. In the lawsuit, Perez claims that she believes Spotify operated under a “double standard,” treating its female employees worse than their male counterparts. Amidst all of the women’s rights movements, including the #MeToo revelations, Perez’s case comes at a time when many women are speaking out.
Sundance Film Festival
To provide proof that she has a legitimate case, Perez alleges that her boss, Brian Berner, coordinated all-male trips to the Sundance Film Festival in 2016 and 2017. The film festival, held every year in Park City, Utah, is the largest independent film festival in the United States. It showcases new work from American and international independent filmmakers since its inception in 1978, it’s become a hot spot for young adults.
Perez added that during the trips, employees spoke of “drug use” and some of the men got into a physical altercation during one of them. She claims that these trips included more senior women. She also says that male sales staff were also taken to strips clubs in Atlantic City for boys’ trips.
Unfair to Women
Perez claims that another executive in the company received a promotion even after being warned repeatedly for incidents of sexual harassment. The lawsuit also says that the global head of sales offered better pay packages and benefits to men than women, alleging that men in the sales department received “higher compensation and equity” than their female counterparts.
Quoting The CFO
She even goes as far as quoting the company’s CFO, Barry McCarty, who said at a town hall that “he does not care about diversity at the company,” and that an HR executive told staffers that his favorite curse word was “c***.” As bad as that sounds, Perez took a bigger issue with the reasoning behind her termination.
Why Perez Was Fired
In March, Berner got in hot water with his supervisors for a discounting arrangement with a buyer and his acceptance of free tickets to Madison Square Garden. Perez claims that Berner managed to evade culpability by blaming her for the situation. In response, Berner fired her for purported violations of the company’s Code of Conduct. In addition to suing for gender discrimination, Perez is also suing for defamation.
Sound Up Bootcamp
“Perez’s allegations paint a much different picture of the company that’s actively trying to be seen as a booster for women,” Complex writes. Spotify recently launched a bootcamp to help women of color in the UK break into the world of podcasting. The campaign, called “Sound Up Bootcamp” aims to train women of color on podcasting skills.
Centered Around Social Injustice Issues
As part of the workshops, podcasters will get the chance to learn the craft of podcasting, receive mentoring and advice, and get guidance from podcast industry experts. But this isn’t the only marketing campaign centered around social injustice issues. In July 2017, the company launched a series called, “I’m With The Banned.”
I’m With The Banned
“I’m With the Banned” paired artists from the six countries cited in President Trump’s travel ban with six American counterparts for a musical movement. It highlighted people who have been historically excluded, including immigrants and the LGBTQ community. Its goal was to amplify the voices of people and communities that have been silenced.
Giving Those Excluded a Voice
In a statement given to Billboard, Spotify chief marketing officer Seth Farbman said, “Throughout history, artists have sought to give voices to those who are not being heard. Their music has created understanding and community during times when it has been in short supply – civil rights, unpopular wars, and all too frequent moments of social and personal grief. ‘I’m With the Banned’ is an idea that was born from the culture of our times and one we hope will remind us of the power of music to bring people together and ease our pain.”
What Does The Data Say?
For a company so focused on bringing people together, Perez is claiming that Spotify favors men and excludes women. In July 2018, Spotify published its first public diversity data report that states that 38.7 percent of employees identified as women, with less than 1 percent identifying as non-binary. The number of female board members, senior executives, and women in leadership roles was higher than 30 percent.
Diversity Data Report
In a statement accompanying the data, Spotify wrote, “We’ve been wanting to share this for a long time. We are very pleased to tell the world that our Diversity Data Report is finally in a place where it makes sense for us to publish it. As Spotifiers, we are always striving for transparency and accountability, and we believe this is another step in that direction.”
The report highlighted that the number of women in management roles had grown by 3.4 percent to 38.4 percent in the two-year reporting period to 2018. Spotify also explained how important diversity is and a feeling of belonging among staff. In the U.S., where more than half of its global staff is based, 50 percent of staff members are white, 14.8 are Asian, 6.1 percent are black, 5.5 percent are Hispanic, and 2.7 percent are mixed race.
Analyzing The Results
The report showed that only 14.1 percent of staff were above the age of 40, showing an increase of 1.2 percent. Spotify also acknowledged the necessity of more work, “specifically around increasing the share of senior women leaders and focus on female representation in our technology organization, diversifying our racial landscape in the U.S., investing in the intersectional experiences of our employees and ensuring our service is welcoming to all.”
Rise In Subscribers
In July 2018, Spotify noticed a rise of 8 million of subscribers in the second quarter and the number of monthly paying subscribers, which accounted for the bulk of its revenue, rose to 83 million at the end of June. The number of subscribers rose from 75 million in the first three months of 2018, which is more than double Apple’s last reported 40 million paid users.
Spotify made its debut as a public company in April 2018, with a direct listing approach. The company’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange gave greater insight into investors’ attitudes to technology companies. Investors trading Spotify’s shares in private transactions have valued the company at around $23 billion.
Spotify Speaks Out
It’s uncertain what will happen with Perez’s case as it’s still ongoing but a Spotify company representative responded to Variety regarding the matter. “At Spotify, we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind at any level. While we cannot comment on the specific details of a pending litigation, these claims are without merit.”