Spotify contributes to digital opportunities for women and girls through its Equalizer programme which offers support to female songwriters and producers. The company also discloses employment in its main markets of operation.
Spotify’s flagship digital skills programme, Sound Up, underwent changes to adjust to COVID-19. The programme provides training and support to enable women of colour and other under-represented groups in Australia, Brazil, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States to develop podcasts. This year, the programme included a larger virtual course on podcast development.
Spotify demonstrates leading practices for supporting open source, for example providing developers with tools to use its code. It also makes podcasting and music recommendation data sets available for research.
While Spotify supports access to technology for vulnerable groups, there is little evidence of the company more widely supporting digital access. Information about accessibility initiatives for users with disabilities and the employment of people with disabilities is lacking. The company should disclose how the economic value it generates is distributed among stakeholders, report taxes paid in its main markets of operation and expand its employment figures to include all its markets of operation.
Spotify has an opportunity to more widely support digital skills among vulnerable and under-represented groups. The company should consider carrying out a third-party assessment of the impact of its existing programmes on advancing digital skills and report on its contribution to those programmes.
Relative to other leading digital companies, Spotify demonstrates little evidence of supporting the tech start-up ecosystem. There is an opportunity for the company to support start-ups from underrepresented groups. The company has an opportunity to demonstrate its support for diverse and ethical innovation by disclosing the number of women it employs in research and development (R&D) roles. In previous reporting years the company disclosed this information. It could also enhance transparency by disclosing how it considers ethics and human rights in its R&D activities.
Core social indicators
The core social indicators assess societal expectations of business conduct that companies should meet if they aspire to be part of a system transformation that leaves no one behind.
Spotify does not publish policy statement where it commits to respect human rights. Furthermore, the company’s commitment to respect the ILO core labour rights could be stronger. For example, it does not commit to respect freedom of association and collective bargaining, in a public policy statement. Spotify does not disclose a process to identify, assess and take action on salient human rights risks in its own operations and business relationships. Moreover, the company does not engage with stakeholders whose human rights could be impacted by its operations. Spotify does have a grievance mechanism that is accessible to both workers and external stakeholders to raise human rights concerns and complaints.
Spotify publicly commits to respecting the health and safety of workers, but it does not place the same requirements on its business relationships. Moreover, the company does not disclose a policy commitment which states that it does not require workers to work more than regular and overtime hours, and is not explicit that it requires its business relationships to do the same. Furthermore, it does not publicly commit gender equality and women’s empowerment or to paying workers a living wage. In relation to workforce diversity, while the company provides a breakdown of employees in different employee categories by gender, it does not disclose against any other indicators of diversity, such as age, per employee category.
Spotify has a policy prohibiting bribery and corruption, but it does not include anti-bribery and anti-corruption clauses in its contracts with business relationships. The company has a UK-specific tax strategy and discloses income tax payments for a number of its tax jurisdictions, but it does not disclose this information for all of its tax jurisdictions. Finally, Spotify does not disclose its approach to lobbying and political engagement. Specifically, the company has no public statement indicating that it does not make political contributions, and it does not disclose its lobbying expenditures.