Recording Academy Enacts Additional Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Following CEO’s Ousting
Following a week of unrest within the Recording Academy, and just hours ahead of Sunday night's (Jan. 26) 2020 Grammy Awards ceremony, the organization's chairman and interim CEO has pledged to work toward creating a diverse, inclusive culture. Not only will the Recording Academy continue to act on recommendations made by its Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, those in charge have also put together a list of additional initiatives that will begin immediately.
In a press release, Recording Academy Chairman and Interim CEO Harvey Mason Jr. reiterates that the organization has agreed to 17 of 18 recommendations from its Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, assembled in February of 2018 and led by Tina Tchen, CEO of the Time's Up organization. However, "it’s not enough to pledge ourselves to change. We must take action," writes Mason Jr., so the Academy and the task force have agreed to five additional, and immediate actions, including hiring a dedicated diversity and inclusion officer within the next 90 days; recommitting to all 18 of the task force's recommendations "in a manner that will endure;" and meeting with the task force regularly to review progress.
Additionally, the Recording Academy will, within 120 days, be establishing a fellowship to independently review and report on diversity and inclusion initiatives. The organization has also created a fund, managed by the new diversity and inclusion officers and distributed annually, to benefit various organizations that support women in music. Lastly, as part of its regular recommendation reviews with the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, the Academy will "have a deeper exploration ... into voting processes for the Grammys."
"The music we create has always reflected the best of ourselves and our world. But what was true of music has historically not been true of the music business as a whole," Mason Jr. writes. "Too often, our industry and Academy have alienated some of our own artists – in particular, through a lack of diversity that, in many cases, results in a culture that leans towards exclusion rather than inclusion.
"The Academy is recognized for our excellence. We are a leader. And being a leader means taking responsibility even when it feels like the problems at hand are bigger than us," he continues. "This is hard. Some might feel that responsibility is unfair, while others might feel it’s not going far enough. But in the end, we must take on this work. Because it’s the right thing to do."
Mason Jr.'s letter and the Recording Academy's actions comes in response to the allegations of misconduct and impropriety that have loomed since the Recording Academy's president and CEO, Deborah Dugan, was place on administrative leave on Jan. 16. The New York Times reports that Dugan was ousted as CEO following a complaint from her assistant, who also worked for her predecessor, Neil Portnow, of bullying.
Dugan subsequently claimed that she had filed her own complaint with HR a month prior, after being sexually harassed by Recording Academy legal counsel and former board member Joel Katz. Her complaint also alleges gender and racial discrimination on the part of the Academy; that the voting process is corrupt (a claim the Recording Academy denies); and that Portnow resigned after being accused of rape.
In response, the Recording Academy Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion issued a scathing statement about "our shock and dismay at the allegations surrounding the Recording Academy and its leadership," insisting that trustees consider the 18 "systemic changes" suggested by the task force in December. Dugan's lawyers, meanwhile, are calling for her to be reinstated, Billboard reports.
The Boot will be staying up late covering the most buzzed-about country winners, fashion and moments at the 2020 Grammy Awards. Readers can watch along with us by checking back to TheBoot.com for the latest Grammys headlines, liking The Boot on Facebook and following The Boot on Twitter.
Grammy Awards Rewind: See Your Favorite Stars at Past Ceremonies