Recording Academy Diversity and Inclusion Task Force Demands Change Amid CEO Controversy
Allegations of dishonesty within the Grammy Awards nomination process and sexual misconduct have loomed over the Recording Academy since the organization’s first and only woman president and CEO, Deborah Dugan, was placed on administrative leave on Jan. 16. In response, the Recording Academy Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion has 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 "systematic changes" the task force suggested back in December.
Dugan was removed as CEO following a complaint from her assistant, who had also worked for Dugan's predecessor, Neil Portnow, and accused Dugan of bullying. However, in a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Dugan claims that she filed her own complaint with HR in December, after being sexually harassed by Joel Katz, the Recording Academy's legal counsel and a former board member. Her complaint also details gender and racial discrimination on the part of the Academy; that the Grammy Awards nomination process is corrupted; and that Portnow resigned after being accused of rape, some of which Dugan, the Times reports, had outlined in a memo to HR.
“While we understand there are ongoing investigations about the issues raised over the last week, our experience and research tells us that if the Academy leadership, its staff and the nominating committees that govern the Awards were more diverse and inclusive, there would be better processes for resolving problems and more trust in the Academy as a whole,” reads the statement (posted in full by Billboard) from the Recording Academy Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion, which is chaired by Time's Up President and CEO Tina Tchen and includes from the country music world UMG Nashville executive Stephanie Alexa, artist Cam and Creative Nation CEO Beth Laird. “Those seeking to make such reforms need to be supported, not impeded.”
Following her removal as Recording Academy CEO and the filing of her EEOC complaint, Dugan has also also told her side of the story to the press. "I was so shocked when I got there of the level of sexism and corruption that I found at the Recording Academy," she told NBC News' Kate Snow on Thursday (Jan. 23). "There's a layer of corruption, self-dealing and sexism that must go."
In response to Dugan's EEOC complaint, the Recording Academy issued a statement of its own: "When Ms. Dugan did raise her 'concerns' to HR, she specifically instructed HR 'not to take any action' in response. Nonetheless, we immediately launched independent investigations to review both Ms. Dugan’s potential misconduct and her subsequent allegations. Both of these investigations remain ongoing," the statement reads in part. "Our loyalty will always be to the 21,000 members of the recording industry. We regret that Music’s Biggest Night is being stolen from them by Ms. Dugan's actions and we are working to resolve the matter as quickly as possible."
The 2020 Grammy Awards are scheduled for Sunday (Jan. 26).
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