The Recording Academy announced Tuesday that Tina Tchen, former chief of staff to Michelle Obama, will head up a news task force to examine issues of inclusion and diversity within the Academy and the music community.
In a statement, the Recording Academy said the task force will identify “the various barriers and unconscious biases faced by underrepresented communities throughout the music industry and, specifically, across Recording Academy operations and policies.”
The move follows the backlash the organization faced over Recording Academy boss Neil Portnow’s comments in January about the lack of female participation at the Grammys.
“The music industry faces numerous challenges — from combating long-held biases to making sure women are represented and respected within the community,” Tchen said in a statement. “This task force is an important initial step by the Recording Academy to demonstrate its commitment to tackling these challenges in a comprehensive way. I am honored to partner with them in this effort and look forward to working with members of the task force as we look to make the music industry a diverse and inclusive community for all.”
In his own statement, Portnow described Tchen as “an accomplished advocate for women and impact-oriented leader versed in convening disparate stakeholders for a common purpose. In addition, the fact that she lacks business ties to the music industry ensures her objectivity as Chair.”
In an effort to determine pathways toward greater parity at every level of the organization, the task force will look specifically at Recording Academy governance, hiring and promotion practices, membership, awards, and telecast.
Tchen currently heads the Chicago office of the Buckley Sandler LLP law firm, where she is a partner and leader in advising companies on gender inequity, sexual harassment, and lack of diversity.
Most recently, she played an integral role in spearheading the formation of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. During her time in the White House, Tchen was the executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, established by President Barack Obama to ensure that the needs of women and girls would be accounted for in the development of all government agency policies and programs.