4 Female Recording Academy Trustees Push Back on Deborah Dugan’s ‘Boys Club’ Criticism

Ousted CEO filed an EEOC complaint on Tuesday against the Grammys organization

Last Updated: January 22, 2020 @ 4:19 PM

Four female Recording Academy trustees issued a statement pushing back on the notion that the Academy is a “boys club,” as asserted in ousted CEO Deborah Dugan’s EEOC complaint filed Tuesday.

Tammy Hurt, Christine Albert, Leslie Ann Jones and Terry Jones signed the statement saying they will stand by the mission to increase diversity in the organization, citing Tina Tchen’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force as proof the Academy is evolving.

“It is deeply disturbing to us – and quite frankly, heartbreaking – to witness the firestorm against our organization that has been unleashed. The Academy is keenly sensitive to any and all allegations of harassment or abuse, and we support the independent investigations that have been launched,” the letter reads. “We would not have taken precious time away from our families and careers if we felt that it was a “boys’ club.” We are leaders of this organization and fully committed to transformational change both within the Academy and within our industry at large.”

Last week, Dugan was placed on administrative leave by the Academy’s executive committee, just days before the 2020 Grammys that take place this coming Sunday.

Harvey Mason Jr., the Academy’s interim boss, revealed in a letter that was sent to membership on Monday that Dugan was being investigated following accusations of misconduct made by a staff member. Mason said Dugan was accused of creating a “toxic and intolerable” and “abusive and bullying” environment toward her staff.

Dugan then made her own accusations against the Academy, including accusations of voting irregularities, financial mismanagement and other conflicts of interest involving the Academy’s board members. A separate investigation into Dugan’s claims was then launched.

Then on Monday, Mason said that Dugan was placed on administrative leave after the Academy’s executive committee received a letter from Dugan’s attorney saying she would agree to step down from her role as CEO and “withdraw” her accusations if she was paid out, with Billboard reporting on Monday she asked for the sum of $22 million.

That prompted Dugan to hire lawyers Douglas Wigdor and Michael Willemin to file a complaint to the EEOC on Tuesday that accused the Academy of corruption and unlawful activity. It also included accusations that the Academy’s private counsel Joel Katz sexually harassed her (Katz denied those claims) and that she learned her predecessor Neil Portnow was accused of raping a female recording artist following a performance at Carnegie Hall (Portnow called the accusations “ludicrous and untrue” and said an independent investigation had exonerated him).

See the full statement from the women of the Academy’s executive committee below:

STATEMENT FROM THE WOMEN ON THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE RECORDING ACADEMY

As women, voting members, creative artists and entrepreneurs who serve on the Board of Trustees of the Recording Academy, we are deeply committed to this organization and its affiliates and the good work that is done beyond the GRAMMY Awards – advocating for artists’ rights, providing critical assistance for music people in times of need and educating, mentoring and inspiring the next generation of music makers.

Along with our male colleagues, we have made great strides in increasing our diversity throughout the organization, both in leadership at the national level, within our twelve chapters around the country, and in the nominations. Diversity has always been a priority – although admittedly, not always easy to accomplish. The partnership with the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, led by Tina Tchen and established in May 2018, amplified those efforts, created a clear path to follow and opened the door to building even more bridges to the music community at large. We pledge to continue those efforts.

It is deeply disturbing to us – and quite frankly, heartbreaking – to witness the firestorm against our organization that has been unleashed. The Academy is keenly sensitive to any and all allegations of harassment or abuse, and we support the independent investigations that have been launched. Thank you for your patience as these continue.

We have collectively volunteered many years of service guiding and supporting this organization. We would not have taken precious time away from our families and careers if we felt that it was a “boys’ club.” We are leaders of this organization and fully committed to transformational change both within the Academy and within our industry at large.

We stand ready to address all concerns, allegations and accusations with facts in hand. In the meantime we continue to pursue our mission of recognizing musical excellence, advocating for the well-being of music makers and ensuring music remains an indelible part of our culture.

Tammy Hurt, Vice-Chair
Christine Albert, Chair Emeritus
Leslie Ann Jones, Trustee, Executive Committee Member
Terry Jones, Trustee, Executive Committee Member

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