Golden Globes body unveils plans to deal with crisis over diversity and ethics

HFPA’s roadmap includes proposal to add minimum 20 new members in 2021 with a ‘focus on recruiting Black members’

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the body that organises the Golden Globe awards, has outlined the changes it plans to make in an attempt to rescue its credibility after months of complaints and criticism over the lack of diversity in its membership and “ethical lapses” in the way it conducted its business.

In a letter to the organisation’s membership published by Deadline, the HFPA said that it has “created a roadmap for transformational change in our organisation”. The plan calls for the HFPA (which currently has about 90 members) to add a minimum of 20 new members in 2021 “with a specific focus on recruiting Black members”, and over the next 18 months to expand to more than 130, as well as changing many of the requirements (such as residence in southern California) which it claims are “barriers” to “underrepresented groups”. The HFPA also says it will “develop a comprehensive and long-term strategy for the recruitment of racially diverse journalists”.

The organisation also addresses criticisms over its perceived ethical issues, after claims that awards voting has been influenced by promotional handouts, members receiving disproportionate financial rewards, and claims of unprofessional behaviour in press conferences. The plan calls for an end to members taking “promotional items”, a “review of press conference procedures” and to “strengthen conflict of interest disclosures”.

The HFPA board is threatening to resign en masse if the current membership fails to approve its plans.

A positive reception for the HFPA’s proposals from the film and TV industry is vital for the continued existence of its lucrative Golden Globe awards. NBC, the TV network that pays around $60m per year to show the Globes, called it “an encouraging step in the right direction” in a statement to Deadline. It added: “The organisation’s swift adoption and meaningful execution of the plan in its entirety are essential for the Golden Globes to remain on NBC.”

However, recent crises show that the HFPA is far from out of the woods. It was forced to expel its former president Philip Berk after he shared an anti-Black Lives Matter article from a far-right website that described the movement as a “racist hate group”; while two of its key hires – diversity and inclusion adviser Shaun Harper and crisis management consultant Judy Smith – departed from their roles. The organisation is also facing a boycott by influential Hollywood PR firms, as well as vocal criticism from the Time’s Up campaign group.

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