After being duly criticized for its lack of inclusivity in an era of #MeToo and Time’s Up, The Recording Academy announced it would form a task force to address gender bias and diversity after the 2018 Grammys. This was after the Academy received a letter written by powerful women in the music industry, denouncing them for being “woefully out of touch” with issues of diversity and gender bias.
The leader of that task force has been chosen, and it will be helmed by one-time chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama and co-founder of Time’s Up, Tina Tchen. While at the White house she also worked as the executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls. She is a partner at a Chicago law firm where she offers consultation to companies on gender inequality, sexual harassment and lack of diversity. She also helped start the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, to assist victims of sexual harassment and assault while in the workplace.
The move towards forming the task force occurred after the Grammys faced widespread criticism for a show that critics felt was tone-deaf and out-of-touch. Singer Alessia Cara was the only woman to walk away with a trophy during the televised broadcast. As the only female artist nominated for Album of the Year, Lorde was not offered a chance to perform solo during the show.
Neil Portnow, the president of the Academy, did not help matters of public opinion with his initial remarks after the broadcast, saying that women needed to “step up”, though he later walked back the comments.
For her part, Tchen has made clear that regardless of their position, it will take work on the part of everyone in the music industry to constitute change. In a Rolling Stone interview, Tchen said, “It takes everyone in a company, everyone in an institution, everyone in an industry to pull together to make these changes happen.” From his position, Portnow agrees that Tchen is ideal for the role as she has no ties to the record industry and is coming onto the task force with fresh ideas and and a clear desire to change things for the better. The president pledges that he and the rest of the organization have made a commitment to work with Tchen to help lead the industry into becoming more inclusive.