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HFPA Adds Diversity Consultant, as Time’s Up Demands More Action

The HFPA is making moves, but is it enough?

78th ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS -- Pictured in this screen grab: HFPA Vice President Helen Hoehne, HFPA Board Chair Meher Tatna, and HFPA President Ali Sar at the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards on February 28, 2021. -- (Photo by: NBC)

HFPA Vice President Helen Hoehne, HFPA Board Chair Meher Tatna, and HFPA President Ali Sar at the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards


Though the Golden Globes have come and gone, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s institutional issues persist. After an extensive Los Angeles Times report revealed ongoing rumors of malfeasance within the organization — including the fact that the isn’t a single Black journalist currently on the rolls at the HFPA — things have been dire for the group, drawing widespread criticism.

Over the weekend, the HFPA announced its commitment to change and on Tuesday shared that it had hired advisors to oversee implementation of said institutional changes.

“At the core of the HFPA’s plan to tackle diversity issues, we are hiring Dr. Shaun Harper, a leading expert on racial equity, Provost Professor in the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California, and founder and executive director of the USC Race and Equity Center, as our Strategic Diversity Advisor for the next five years,” a statement from the HFPA said. “Dr. Harper will conduct an audit and review of the Association’s bylaws, culture, and eligibility requirements to help us guard against any exclusionary practices and achieve a more diverse membership. He will also create and conduct a series of anti-racism and unconscious bias training for our members. Dr. Harper will also guide us in developing and implementing a comprehensive, multi-year diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy.”

The HFPA also announced the hiring of Ropes & Gray as outside counsel to review and assess the group’s policies, membership process, operations, governance and align the organization with industry best practices, as well as working on the continued development of a confidential reporting system for violations of ethical standards and code of conduct.

“We understand the importance of building a more inclusive organization and becoming more transparent in our operations, and these hires are an important first step,” the statement said. “We remain committed to fostering an environment that better reflects our core values, affords us the opportunity to continue as valuable members of the entertainment community, and restores faith, trust, and confidence in our organization.”

Hours earlier, Time’s Up released its own set of recommendations to begin to heal the fissures within the HFPA, and the changes outlined are expansive. Time’s Up advised bringing on outside independent counsel to implement changes to membership criteria, bylaws, and policies, and select new members for HFPA, election of a new board by the newly constituted membership, which would then hire new management, and all existing members of the HFPA must resign and reapply for membership under the new criteria after one year.

And that’s just the start. Available in full here, the memo details recommended membership criteria and advise that the number of individuals making up the HFPA should expand to a minimum of 300, it suggests that the organization disclose the names, countries represented, and diversity demographics of its membership at the close of the year’s membership process and for every year in the future. In addition, lifetime memberships should be done away with, instead instituting that new members have voting rights for 10 years, after which time they will need to reapply for membership.

The Time’s Up memo continues from there to address ethics and safety protections for whistleblowers, as well as adopting strict regulations overseeing the conduct of HFPA members and changing the schedule of the Golden Globes, such that it cannot occur during the pre-nomination window of the Academy Awards, therefore minimizing the event’s outsized influence on later awards.

While the HFPA has not responded specifically to the recommendations made by Time’s Up, its announcement does suggest a move in the right direction, though it remains unclear how significant the adjustments made by the purveyors of the Golden Globes will be in the big picture.

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