Recording Academy’s Diversity Task Force ‘Deeply Disappointed’ by Failures to Implement Changes

Task force suggested 18 changes to Academy last month, including ranked voting for top Grammy categories and hiring a diversity officer

Deborah Dugan Harvey Mason Jr. Recording Academy
Photo credit: Getty Images

The Recording Academy Diversity and Inclusion Task Force — an organization established within the Academy in 2018 to examine diversity and inclusion in the organization and the broader music community — sharply criticized the Academy leadership’s failure to implement their recommendations presented in a December 2019 report. The task force’s recommendations included equal gender representation in all Academy committees, ranked-choice voting for major Grammy categories and hiring a dedicated diversity and inclusion officer.

“We are deeply disappointed at the level of commitment by some of the Academy’s leadership in effecting the kind of real and constructive change presented in our report. We are confident that they can do better,” the statement released Thursday read. Members of the task force include Times Up CEO Tina Tchen, artists Common, Jimmy Jam, Andra Day and Universal Music Group executives Stephanie Alexa and Michele Anthony. All 18 members of the task force are independent of the Record Academy.

Their months-long investigation involved “collecting documents from the Recording Academy, interviewing and meeting with key stakeholders within and outside of the Recording Academy, holding listening sessions, commissioning research, and holding monthly, in-person executive sessions to facilitate its independent investigation and private decision-making process.”

A 47-page report with 18 recommendations was presented to the Academy, with the Academy ready to adopt 17 of those 18 recommendations (ranked voting being the sole holdout). However, the task force said the Academy can “do better” and calling for the organization to “immediately commit themselves to real reform, take concrete steps to implement all of the Task Force reforms, and transparently and regularly report on their progress.”

Their statement comes after ousted Academy president Deborah Dugan (pictured above) filed an EEOC complaint against the Academy, where she called out the “boys club” environment, the lack of gender and minority inclusion in committees across the organization, and corrupt Grammy Awards voting practices. She also said she was sexually harassed by Academy counsel Joel Katz and that her predecessor Neil Portnow sexually assaulted a musical artist (both have denied Dugan’s accusations).