Recording Academy Reveals Diversity and Inclusion Numbers at Virtual Industry Summit

Harvey Mason Jr
Harvey Mason Jr., the Recording Academy’s chair and interim president/CEO

The two organizations announced the forthcoming #ChangeMusic Roadmap.

The Recording Academy revealed its latest diversity and inclusion numbers at a virtual industry summit; #ChangeMusic, which it co-sponsored with Color of Change, the largest online racial justice organization, was held Thursday.

The Recording Academy has 169 employees. It reports that the staff is 60% female, 40% male; 46% “diverse,” 54% “non-diverse”; and 55% under 40, 45% over 40.

There is greater diversity if you add in 95 people who are employees of the Latin Recording Academy, Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation, Grammy Museum or MusiCares (but are not Recording Academy employees). Total staff is still 60% female, 40% male; but the “diverse” number jumps 7% to 53% and the under 40 number ticks up a point to 56%.

The Academy has 14,553 voting and “professional” members (the latter category refers to industry members who are not voting members). This breakdown on these members is 26% female, 69% male, 6% unknown; 25% “diverse,” 48% “non-diverse” and 27% unknown; and 25% under 40, 71% over 40 and 4% unknown. The Academy did not break down data just for voting members.

As previously announced, the Academy invited 2,321 people to join the Academy this year. (It even offered to waive membership fees for new and renewing members who were financially stressed amid the COVID-19 crisis.) That new member class breaks down this way: 48% female, 48% male, 4% unknown; 37% “diverse”, 50% non-diverse, 13% unknown; 51% under 40, 24% over 40, 25% unknown.

The Academy has made significant strides in Black representation. According to its own figures, Blacks account for 39% of the board of trustees, 29% of chapter boards, 25% of executive staff, 12% of membership, 11% of voting membership and 21% of those invited to be part of the 2020 new member class.

The Academy did not reveal data for any other racial or ethnic group, such as Latinx.

“This is a crucial moment in our world, our nation and our society,” said Harvey Mason jr., the Recording Academy’s chair and interim president/CEO. “It is now more important than ever that we bring people together to make progress on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. As leaders in the music industry, we have an opportunity as role models to lead by example and set a progressive tone for culture and society.”

Rashad Robinson, President of Color Of Change, was more pointed in his comment, released in a statement. “Black artists' rich contributions have undeniably shaped the music industry into what it is today. The industry must tear down the systems that silence, harm and pigeon-hole Black artists for profitable gains.”

The two organizations announced the forthcoming #ChangeMusic Roadmap, a tool to help people at all levels of the music industry take action to enact racial and social justice within the industry. The first aspect of the roadmap discussed was a commitment to transparent reporting on Black representation. The full roadmap will be released before the end of the year.

“The #ChangeMusic Roadmap will begin the process of giving the industry the tools to challenge injustice and enact tangible change now,” Robinson said. “The Recording Academy is setting a strong example for the industry from the inside, holding those in power accountable to change. Together, we can propel music into the equitable future Black artists have earned, and always deserved.”

Valeisha Butterfield Jones, chief diversity & inclusion officer for the Recording Academy, added, “Our approach to diversity, equity and inclusion includes making data-informed, intentional and principled decisions every day to ensure that we reflect the diverse music community…We’re proud to take a step back and acknowledge some of our progress, while staying focused on the work ahead, including cultivating a more diverse and representative membership.”

The summit focused on “best practices and strategies to encourage systemic change and elevate women, Black and Latinx, as well as all underrepresented music creators and professionals.”

Participants included singer/songwriters Ledisi, Rico Love and Maimouna "Mumu Fresh" Youssef; television personalities Rocsi Diaz and Jeff Johnson; music culture influencer Karen Civil; poet J. Ivy; and prominent executives and industry professionals including Tuma Basa (YouTube), Ingrid Best (Combs Enterprises), Binta Brown (omalilly projects; Black Music Action Coalition), Shari Bryant (Roc Nation), Jeff Burroughs (Def Jam Recordings), Ryan Butler (Recording Academy), Valeisha Butterfield Jones (Recording Academy), Qiana Conley (Recording Academy), Caroline "Baroline" Diaz (Interscope Records), Michelle Edgar (Epic Records; Music Unites; XX Project), Ethiopia Habtemariam (Motown Records; Capitol Music Group), Erin Hall Harris (Combs Enterprises), Tammy Hurt (Recording Academy), Jeriel Johnson (Recording Academy), Debra Lee (formerly BET Networks), Harvey Mason jr. (Recording Academy), Adam McFarland (Blacksmith Recordings; #TheShowMustBePaused), Riggs Morales (Atlantic Records), Jessica Rivera (YouTube), Rashad Robinson (Color Of Change), Travis Robinson (Universal Music Group), Lenny Santiago (Roc Nation), Rashid Shabazz (Color Of Change), Dr. Maurice Stinnett (Warner Music Group), Tiffany R. Warren (Omnicom Group; ADCOLOR), and Roe Williams (KWL Enterprises).

The slides on diversity and inclusion numbers presented at the summit included these pointed messages: “Trust has to be earned. Transparency. Acknowledging our past, embracing our future.”

A playback link to the summit can be viewed here. Progress regarding the Recording Academy's Diversity & Inclusion efforts can be found here.

This story originally appeared on Billboard.com.