"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,” the academy said in an announcement. “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."
"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 statement. "This task force is an important initial step by the Recording Academy to demonstrate its commitment to tackling these challenges in a comprehensive way."
During her tenure in the White House, Tchen was the executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, established by President Barack Obama to ensure that the needs of women and girls would be accounted for in the development of all government agency policies and programs.
She has no music industry background, which was intentional, 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 said. "Tina Tchen is an accomplished advocate for women and impact-oriented leader versed in convening disparate stakeholders for a common purpose. In addition, the fact that she lacks business ties to the music industry ensures her objectivity as Chair. We are honored to have her at the helm, guiding the Academy and our industry toward a greater good for everyone involved."
Incidentally, prior to joining the Obama administration, Tchen was a litigator at Skadden Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, a large firm at which the late Joseph Flom, father of Lava Records founder and longtime A&R exec Jason Flom, was a partner.
According to the announcement, the Recording Academy says it will complete the formation of its task force comprising "music executives, music creators, academia, and experts in diversity in entertainment" in the coming weeks, "with an eye toward assembling a leadership group balanced in perspective and independent of bias."