As Defected hire a “freelance advisory” head of inclusion, is it a sign of their commitment to diversity – or meaningless virtue signalling?

Strange things are going on within Defected at the moment, and you won’t be reading about any of them in Music Week – their chronicle of choice whenever they want something favourable about them to appear in the press.

Since Wez Saunders took over the company last year in a management buyout, Ears To The House has been watching closely to see how the company would change – after all, why buy a business and run it exactly like the predecessor did? Our initial reporting that not much would change in the short term proved accurate – but signs coming to the fore suggest Saunders is now sidelining the once powerful Dunmore family’s influence on the business.

The proof? Last month, it was announced that Sondela – owned by Louie Dunmore, son of Defected’s founder Simon Dunmore – was being relaunched as an independent label. And as for the ousted former boss, sources close to Defected tell us that “he isn’t in the office anywhere near as much as he used to be”.

Which brings us to this week – when Saunders announced the appointment of a Head of Inclusion to the company…

So, who is this Nathan Jordan? Well, his LinkedIn profile reveals he’s been working for Defected since March – but a closer look reveals something that really raises our eyebrows. Jordan describes his job as…

“Delivering freelance advisory to Defected Records across internal inclusion efforts and external outreach to target and generate impact amongst those most underrepresented in the industry.”

His profile also says that he’s worked for diversity and inclusion at Microsoft since August 2022 – and is based in Manchester. We can also reveal that he spent several months at the start of the pandemic working for British health and beauty retailer Boots.

So why has Defected suddenly decided they need a head of inclusion? Sources close to the company told Ears To The House that they’re baffled – with one saying, “Defected already does pretty well with representing diversity. I can’t help but think this is a box ticking PR exercise which looks good, but will have no real effect on how things work.”.

Is this an unfair criticism? In the three months that Jordan has been at work in what he defines as his “freelance advisory” role, Defected has launched SpeakUp – a confidential reporting service available to Defected’s employees, freelancers like Jordan himself and contractors. He’s also introduced Rules Of The House – basically a list of things not to do at Defected’s events, which they promote regularly.

We also understand Jordan is working on plans to amend Defected’s contracts to make them more diverse – although we’re told that these plans haven’t been finalised yet. If Saunders pushes back against any of his proposals, things could get very interesting…

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