Following criticism for its treatment of female musicians, the Recording Academy announced today (March 6) that veteran attorney Christina “Tina” Tchen will lead a new task force to address diversity and inclusion issues in the music industry.
“As part of its charter, the task force will identify the various barriers and unconscious biases faced by underrepresented communities throughout the music industry and, specifically, across Recording Academy operations and policies,” reads a press release from the Recording Academy, which oversees the Grammy Awards every year. “In an effort to determine pathways toward greater parity at every level of the organization, the task force will look specifically at Recording Academy governance, hiring and promotion practices, membership, awards and telecast.”
Tchen currently works at Buckley Sandler and oversees the law firm’s Chicago office. Tchen previously worked as chief of staff for Michelle Obama during her time as first lady of the United States. Tchen also directed the White House Council on Women and Girls. She more recently helped launch the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which provides financial and social resources to women confronting workplace sexual violence in court.
“The music industry faces numerous challenges—from combatting long-held biases to making sure women are represented and respected within the community,” Tchen said in the press release. “This task force is an important initial step by the Recording Academy to demonstrate its commitment to tackling these challenges in a comprehensive way. I am honored to partner with them in this effort and look forward to working with members of the task force as we look to make the music industry a diverse and inclusive community for all.”
“Tina Tchen is an accomplished advocate for women and impact-oriented leader versed in convening disparate stakeholders for a common purpose,” added Recording Academy president Neil Portnow in the announcement. Portnow and the organization faced criticism after the most recent Grammys ceremony because Alessia Cara, who won Best New Artist, was the only woman to win in a top category. Portnow fueled further outrage when, as Variety reported, he addressed the critiques by saying that women need “to step up” without acknowledging the structural barriers that stand in the way of success.