Time’s Up co-founder will lead Grammys task force

Tina Tchen worked as chief of staff to Michelle Obama

Time’s Up co-founder Tina Tchen will lead the Recording Academy’s task force on gender bias within the music industry, it has been reported.

Last month, music industry executives called on the Grammys organisation to take “significant and robust action” following the lack of female representation at this year’s awards.

Alessia Cara was the only female winner of a major award at the event in January, while Lorde was the only female Album Of The Year nominee, and the only one not invited to perform solo.

Following the ceremony, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow caused backlash by saying women needed to “step up” to further their careers. He then announced a new task force would target “female advancement” in the industry.

Lorde at the Grammys

Female executives wrote two open letters to the Recording Academy, with one calling the group “woefully out of touch” – with their male counterparts sending their own message “in solidarity of the women who penned letters”.

Now, the Academy has told Billboard that they have appointed Tina Tchen to helm the task force. Tchen – who worked as chief of staff to Michelle Obama – is said to have put together around half of the 15 to 20-member team.

The group will focus on female inclusion and diversity issues in the industry. The Academy say in their statement that they’ll be identifying “the various barriers and unconscious biases faced by underrepresented communities throughout the music industry and, specifically, across Recording Academy operations and policies”.

Recording Academy
President of the Recording Academy, Neil Portnow

They’ll also focus their attention on looking at governance, hiring and promotion practices, membership, awards and the Grammys telecast.

The choice of Tchen as an outsider to the music industry is in line with the Academy’s desire to have an independent and objective team.

“The fact that she lacks business ties to the music industry ensures her objectivity as chair,” Neil Portnow said in a statement. “In this moment, the Recording Academy can do more than reflect what currently exists; we can help lead the industry into becoming the inclusive music community we want it to be — a responsibility that the board and I take seriously.”

He added: “Tina Tchen is an accomplished advocate for women and impact-oriented leader versed in convening disparate stakeholders for a common purpose.”

Tchen is a partner with Buckley Sandler LLP law firm and is currently head of the Chicago office. Her role sees her advise companies on sexual harassment, gender inequality and diversity.

The Time’s Up initiative was launched at the start of 2018 by over 300 women working in the entertainment industry. It comes after the spate of sexual misconduct allegations that came out of Hollywood late last year.