Time's Up President Criticizes HFPA, NBC for Diversity Response: "Your Stated Version of Change is Cosmetic"

Golden Globe Awards Show - HFPA Vice President Helen Hoehne, HFPA Board Chair Meher Tatna, and HFPA President Ali Sar and inset of Tina Tchen
Courtesy of NBC; Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

"The HFPA's statements tonight and over the last several days indicate a fundamental lack of understanding of the depth of the problems at hand," Time's Up CEO Tina Tchen wrote in a letter to HFPA leaders. "Your stated version of change is cosmetic — find Black people. That is not a solution."

Minutes after the 78th annual Golden Globes Awards wrapped, Time's Up president and CEO Tina Tchen released a pair of letters to its voting body, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and its network sponsor, NBC, demanding a more substantive response to its lack of a diverse membership.

"The HFPA's statements tonight and over the last several days indicate a fundamental lack of understanding of the depth of the problems at hand," Tchen wrote in a letter to HFPA leaders Meher Tatna (board chair), Ali Sar (president) and Helen Hoehne (vice president). "Your stated version of change is cosmetic—find Black people. That is not a solution."

Early in the ceremony, the trio took the stage to issue a milquetoast acknowledgement of the fact that none of the HFPA's 87 members are Black. That fact was exposed in a Los Angeles Times investigation published on Feb. 21, and amplified by online outrage over the past week, including by the hashtag #TimesUpGlobes that Time's Up began circulating on Friday.

"We recognize we have our own work to do," said Hoehne. "Just like in film and television, Black representation is vital. We must have Black journalists in our organization."

Tatna, a former HFPA president, agreed. "We must ensure everyone gets a seat at our table."

"That means creating an environment where diversity is the norm, not an exception," Sar concurred, without offering any more details about how or when the HFPA would do so.

"We listened tonight and hoped to hear the HFPA respond with some awareness that the industry-wide discontent with your organization's practices goes far beyond what you offered tonight and in the days preceding," Tchen continued, criticizing the organization's membership criteria. "What we had hoped you heard was that not having a Black member was a symptom of a problem, not just the problem itself."

Tchen also called on NBC, which in 2018 inked an eight-year extension to carry the Golden Globes (it reportedly pays $60 million per year for the licensing rights), to hold the HFPA accountable for reform.

"Much of the credibility of the Golden Globes is drawn from its affiliation with your network," Tchen wrote to NBCU Television and Streaming chair Mark Lazarus and entertainment content chair Susan Rovner. "NBCUniversal has a reputation interest in fixing these issues…. As leaders of NBCUniversal television, your power as stakeholders makes you an effective force of change."

The Golden Globe Awards ceremony is produced by Dick Clark Productions, a division of MRC, which is a co-owner of The Hollywood Reporter through a joint venture with Penske Media titled P-MRC.

Read both letters below:

Dear Ms. Tatna, Ms. Hoehne and Mr. Sar,

Three years ago, TIME’S UP sparked a movement at the Golden Globes. Pledging to work
with allies across the country – across the globe – we demanded workplaces that are free from
sexual harassment and to require institutions plagued by inequality to open their doors and
create greater opportunities for all. We are at your door now to discuss your workplace.

Yes, the lack of diverse representation in your membership is significant and an
embarrassment in its own right. However, it is only one of many concerns of inclusion and
respect that have been documented in the LA Times, The New York Times, and most of the
industry trade papers. You are aware of every allegation. We have also gathered them on our
website.

You must now address the systemic problems within your organization.

The HFPA’s statements tonight and over the last several days indicate a fundamental lack of
understanding of the depth of the problems at hand. Your stated version of change is cosmetic
- find Black people. That is not a solution.

The problems with the HFPA cannot be addressed simply by a search for new members who
meet your self-declared membership criteria. That criteria reflects a fundamental lack of
understanding of the problems at hand. Change only occurs from an awareness of larger
cultural problems, as well as a long-term commitment to systemic change. The membership
of a small, exclusive private association would generally not merit such broad concern.
However, it is unquestionable that HFPA’s award show has an outsized impact on the
entertainment industry and by extension our overall culture.

We listened tonight and hoped to hear the HFPA respond with some awareness that the
industry wide discontent with your organization’s practices goes far beyond what you offered
tonight and in the days preceding. What we had hoped you heard was that not having a Black
member was a symptom of a problem, not just the problem itself.

At TIME’S UP, we know that the only way to create safe, fair and dignified work for all is to
break down the hidden power structures and toxic cultures that block full inclusion and equity.

The Globes are no longer golden. We at TIME’S UP stand ready to work for real change.

Sincerely,

Tina Tchen

***

Dear Colleagues,

Three years ago, TIME’S UP sparked a movement at the Golden Globes. Pledging to work
with allies across the country – across the globe – we demanded workplaces that are free from
sexual harassment and to require institutions plagued by inequality to open their doors and
create greater opportunities for all.

We must fix the Golden Globes.

Statements made by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) tonight and over the
last several days indicate that the organization believes it can make the fix. Nothing shared
thus far should make the industry confident that the organization alone will create the solution.
If the HFPA understood the social reckoning of these times, it would not have needed an LA
Times exposé followed by negative global press and a pummeling on social media to announce
a commitment to change. The organization’s stated version of change is cosmetic - find Black
people. That is not a solution.

Change only occurs from an awareness of larger cultural problems, as well as a long-term
commitment to systemic change. We wish the HFPA had responded tonight with some
awareness that the industry-wide discontent with its practices goes far beyond the
embarrassing disclosure that they cannot recall the last time it had a Black member.

We won’t list for you in this letter the many concerns that have dogged the HFPA for years.
We have compiled those on our website. And there are more that you may not yet be aware of.
This goes far beyond the simplistic description we heard tonight of representation and
inclusion. The awards process must be free from concerns of racism or misogyny and devoid
of the stories of rampant discrimination against filmmakers of color and the discomfort of
actors who participate in any event.

The HFPA’s self-declared membership criteria demonstrates a fundamental lack of
understanding of the problems at hand. It calls into question the entire mission of the
organization itself. The internal workings of a small, exclusive, private association would
generally not merit such broad concern. However, it demands change because the HFPA’s
award show which airs on your network has an outsized impact on the entertainment industry
and by extension our overall culture.

Much of the credibility of the Golden Globes is drawn from its affiliation with your network.
NBCUniversal has a reputational interest in fixing these issues. To do so is consistent with
your Chairman Brian Roberts’s commitment that the “company will try to play an integral role
in driving lasting reform.” As leaders of NBCUniversal television, your power as stakeholders
makes you an effective force of change.

At TIME’S UP, we know that the only way to create safe, fair and dignified work for all is to
break down the hidden power structures and toxic cultures that block full inclusion and equity.

We recognize the significance of the Golden Globes to the awards season, but a claim to
significant real estate is not an exemption from a lack of obligation to the ethical standards that
the industry is embracing. To the contrary, it is your obligation. We urge NBCUniversal to
lead this effort. We at TIME’S UP stand ready to work for real change.

The Globes are no longer golden. It’s time to act.

Sincerely,

Tina Tchen