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HFPA commits to 13 percent Black membership by next year's Golden Globes ceremony

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Photo: Robyn Beck for AFP (Getty Images)

After the Academy and BAFTA implemented systemic changes resulting in their most diverse awards nominees yet, this year’s Golden Globe awards looked even worse than usual. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association was heavily criticized, yet again, for its lack of diversity—both in its voting body and nominees. Paired with last month’s damning exposé in the Los Angeles Times, which investigated the organization’s questionable ethics and revealed that there is not a single Black member among the 87 journalists who make up the HFPA, time was well beyond up for the Golden Globes. That sentiment was underscored yesterday by the publication of an open letter signed by over 100 publicity firms, demanding the HFPA “swiftly manifest profound and lasting change to eradicate the longstanding exclusionary ethos and pervasive practice of discriminatory behavior, unprofessionalism, ethical impropriety and alleged financial corruption endemic” to the organization.

In response, THR reports that the HFPA has released a letter of its own, promising to increase the membership from 87 to 100 and committing to a 13 percent increase in Black members before the 2022 Golden Globes ceremony—meaning they’re going to hire 13 Black journalists. That’s certainly an interesting approach to addressing allegations of questionable ethical and financial practices among the existing membership. The letter, which includes weird corporate speak about stuff like “workstreams,” details the steps the HFPA is taking to address “necessary changes within our organization and our industry as a whole” with the help of a “strategic diversity advisor.”

You can read the full text of the HFPA’s letter below:

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association reiterates that we are committed to making necessary changes within our organization and in our industry as a whole. We also acknowledge that we should have done more, and sooner. As a demonstration of our commitment, the board has unanimously approved a plan to increase membership to a minimum of 100 members this year, with a requirement that at least 13 percent of the membership be Black journalists. We are also continuing to work on the comprehensive initiatives announced last week. Our outside legal counsel has already begun to work on how to effectively implement transformational changes to our organization, including a comprehensive review of our governance and code of conduct, and Dr. Shaun Harper, our new strategic diversity advisor, has identified the following workstreams:

-Analyzing policies, practices, member recruitment activities, and member selection processes through the prism of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI);

-Facilitating 20 quarterly trainings over the next five years on DEI topics ranging from implicit and explicit bias to strategically diversifying the membership, evolving the Association with changing demographics, welcoming Black members into an inclusive environment, and ensuring equitable pathways to leadership for women members, to name a few;

-Facilitating introductions to prospective strategic DEI partner organizations in journalism and entertainment, and developing a strategy to sustain those mutually-rewarding relationships over many years;

-Conducting interviews with members to invite their input on the development and strategic actualization of DEI goals. Also gathering qualitative insights from industry leaders on what they feel the Association must do to become more equitable, diverse, and inclusive; and

-Systematically assessing and making transparent the Association’s year-to-year progress on DEI goals and commitments.

We have also started meeting with various advocacy groups and racially diverse partners to gather their input and hear their opinions on the additional reforms that need to take place. While we recognize this is a long-term process, we will continue to be transparent, provide updates, and have confidence in our ability to change and restore trust in our organization and the Golden Globes. As we do so, we invite others in the Hollywood community to join us in advancing racial equity in our industry.