OPEN LETTER TO THE HFPA
Read Tina Tchen’s statement HERE.
May 7, 2021
On May 6, 2021, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) adopted a list of reforms that were supposed to demonstrate its commitment to transformational change that would finally uproot the systemic and longstanding racism, misogyny, and corruption widely reported as endemic to the HFPA and the Golden Globe Awards.
But after months of introspective examination, multiple consultants, and industry leaders offering their expertise to help the HFPA transform, these window-dressing platitudes are sorely lacking and hardly transformational. Instead, these proposed measures ensure that the current membership of the HFPA will remain in the majority for years to come, and that the next Golden Globe Awards, which will have started by then, will be riddled with the same fundamental problems that have existed for years.
The HFPA’s list of recommendations largely contains no specifics, no commitments to real accountability or change, and no real timeline to implement these changes. What few items have a proposed September 1 deadline come too late to represent real change for this coming awards season.
We wish the HFPA had responded with a plan for change that reflected the industry-wide discontent with its practices, THIS YEAR. Instead, the HFPA is simply trying to push forward with “business as usual” — urging industry members to submit their projects for consideration in order to avoid missing imminent deadlines for the next awards season, all while its proposed plan purposely keeps the deeply problematic governance in control.
Months ago, TIME’S UP sent a list of precise recommendations to the HFPA that included guidance on membership and governance, ethics and safety protections, and nominations and awards. Sadly, not only did the HFPA ignore those recommendations (the HFPA leadership never took our offer to meet), but the HFPA also purposely skirted around all of our specific calls to action, as laid out below.
An immediate change in the current management and board.
- HFPA’s plan involves a two year process, the start of which takes us too far past this year’s awards milestones, and ensures that existing members will remain in the majority for the 2022 awards season.
- There is no bar to existing leadership standing for reelection. In fact, there has been no demonstration that anyone in the existing leadership or staff has taken responsibility for the problems within the HFPA.
An immediate reform and expansion of membership in numbers sufficient to eliminate insularity, ensure journalistic credibility, and create real change.
- The HFPA’s timeline of increasing new membership by 50% over the next 18 months — only 43 new members in addition to the existing 86 — ensures that its current membership will continue to hold majority rule for the foreseeable future, ultimately silencing any new members who would join.
- The supposed reforms to their membership criteria and undefined roles for third parties on the board or in the membership process provide no assurance that decisions to admit new members will be made in an equitable and inclusive manner with full transparency and oversight.
Complete transparency and external accountability around processes for establishing and welcoming new members, board members, and management.
- The vague promises of unnamed outside consultants and oversight are insufficient.
- There is no definition of what authority those third parties would have over the HFPA decisions and operations, or even their scope of work. Simply promising to hire another DEI consultant, after losing its original one, without these details these details is empty.
- In contrast, our recommendations provided key steps on the oversight of decisions around new members, election of new leadership, and nominations by outside experts immediately while the HFPA works to truly transform itself.
New and published ethics policies, as well as anti-harassment, anti-bullying, and anti-discrimination policies that will provide protections to employees, members, partners, contractors, and participants in all HFPA events.
- The undefined promise to revise the HFPA code of conduct provides no information on what values will be at the core of those revisions or who would be covered by the code. The suggestion of establishing a hotline for individuals to report past, present, and future conduct violations is a basic requirement for any accountability policy. But to be clear, it is not the mechanism to achieve reform. The responsibility to make reform happen should be placed on those in positions of leadership, not on those who have already been harmed.
Immediate reform of the awards process itself so that the process is transparent and enforced with fair criteria for screening and consideration.
- Noticeably absent from the HFPA list is any mention of changes to the deeply troubled nominations and awards process.
- Despite multiple prior controversies, the HFPA stays silent about the need to review their existing award categories and rules to eliminate any discriminatory criteria and ensure those rules are enforced with fairness and consistency.
- There has been no response to the recent disclosures about HFPA members not attending screenings and conferences for artists of color. And the HFPA’s list of reforms does not even include a requirement that voting members will perform the basic function of watching nominated projects.
The HFPA — through the Golden Globe Awards, and with the support of NBCUniversal and Dick Clark Productions — has set itself up to pass judgment on the American entertainment industry. The awards process can make or break careers and has an outsize impact on our broader culture. Yet what we have seen from the HFPA falls far short of what is required to transform the organization. Our community of vibrant creatives across all racial, ethnic, and gender backgrounds deserve better.