The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), who put on the annual Golden Globe Awards, have announced what they hope are a sweeping set of reforms to repair its long derided reputation after a year of ethics scandals that have brought them to a level of accountability and transparency the org has never seen.
Earlier this spring, Time’s Up and over 100 PR firms from across the globe told the org their talent, studios and networks would not work with the HFPA until meaningful reform was in place. NBC, who has a lucrative deal to air the Golden Globe Awards, announced that it would not air the show in 2022. It is not clear yet if these reforms and updates will be enough to sway the network into changing their minds.
Among the new rules, the HFPA now forbids members to accept gift, travel and promotional materials from studios, publicists, actors, directors or others. Long seen as bribes for votes, this new bylaw also shines a light on how studios and networks position their films, shows and talent to a group they’ve been able to easily manipulate for decades.
The org has also been working on new membership goals in light of the revelation that the HFPA had no Black members, which was first reported last spring by the Los Angeles Times. The organization recently posted to its website an application through which any journalist who meets the new membership criteria can apply to join. The newly-passed measure calls for the admission of “at least 20 new members in 2021, with a specific focus on recruiting Black members,” and with “a goal of increasing the membership by 50 percent over the next 18 months.” Under the new bylaws, new members will be selected by a credentials committee that will now consist of five non-HFPA members, three HFPA members, and the board president.
The current board will meet on Thursday and set the date for elections to choose a new board, which will be comprised of 12 HFPA members and three non members.
Back in May, the 85-member HFPA announced a timeline that would overhaul the organization by creating “five pillars of change: accountability, membership, inclusion, good governance/ethics, and transparency.”
“Three months ago, we made a promise to commit to transformational change and with this vote we kept the last and most significant promise in reimagining the HFPA and our role in the industry,” said Ali Sar, HFPA board president. “All of these promised reforms can serve as industry benchmarks and allow us to once again partner meaningfully with Hollywood moving forward.”
Also per the new bylaws will also be a “revision of membership eligibility and reaccreditation criteria,” and “all current members will be required to meet the same standards as incoming members for reaccreditation of their membership.” Beginning this Friday, all current members will have 15 days to apply for reaccreditation as members, and will be required to show a more substantial level of output at the outlet they represent in order to keep their membership current.
“These new bylaws bring accountability, inclusion and transparency within our association, and today’s vote is a testament to the dedication and commitment of our members to reflect, educate themselves, and build a better organization,” said HFPA vice president Helen Hoehne. “But we know the hard work starts now, and we invite our partners throughout the industry to join us in our mission to bring Hollywood to the world in a more inclusive and diverse manner.”
Here are the new bylaws, which “were drafted by Ropes & Gray, LLP after extensive input from membership and outside groups and include changes directly addressing concerns raised by various stakeholders,” the org said.
The Southern California residency requirement is now eliminated, with any qualified journalist living in the U.S. who works for a foreign publication now eligible to apply.
Eligibility is now expanded to journalists outside of the Motion Picture Association (MPA), and membership is now open to journalists who work in media beyond print.
The sponsorship requirement is now eliminated, and the role of the credentials committee will include third parties from credible journalistic and other organizations focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
New members will immediately be allowed to vote on the Golden Globes, vote on board members, and serve on committees.
Member accreditation has been revised so that under the new process, all current members will be required to meet the standards as incoming members for re-accreditation of their membership. This process will take place annually, and members may immediately begin submitting materials to the credentials committee.
A new grievance procedure will immediately go into effect to ensure accountability throughout the organization involving outside independent investigators. A new code of conduct will be signed by every member and subject to its provisions.
Members will not be allowed to accept promotional materials or gifts from studios, publicists, actors, directors or others associated with motion pictures and television programs.
The Board of Directors will now include 15 total directors – 12 active members and three who are non-members. Members will elect the 12 internal directors. The Board will then select the three outside non-members.
The HFPA will employ new Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Human Resource Officer and Chief Diversity Officer.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
The majority of the members have already completed their initial diversity, equity and inclusion training sessions.
Members will continue to participate in monthly DEI workshops as organized by DEI consultants, and complete mandatory sexual harassment training.
All new board and committee members will undergo DEI and leadership training for their respective roles
Here is the proposed timetable of what comes next for the HFPA:
- August. 5: The current Board of Directors will set Initial Election Meeting, as required by the new bylaws.
- August 6: Members seeking re-accreditation can begin submitting materials to the credentials committee.
- Week of August 8: Members who wish to be considered for elected office submit credentials to credentials committee; this must take place at least fifteen (15) days before the “Initial Election Meeting”
- Week of August 15: Ballots are provided to active members for the election of a new, expanded board and credentials committee; this must take place at least ten (10) days before the ballots are due for tabulation
- Both the board and credentials committee, as currently comprised, remain in charge and functionally operational in their positions until the new, expanded board and credentials committee are seated
- August 26 or August 30: Due date for ballots for the election of Board of Directors and credentials committee to be returned to Ernst & Young
- August 27 or August 31: Election results for new, expanded board and credentials committee announced
- August 30 or September 1: New board and credentials committee are seated; intensive work begins immediately on the myriad issues facing the organization, including the selection of three non-member board directors, and five non-member credentials committee members
- September 3 or September 7: Election results for president are announced
Background on Election Process:
The organization is voting on a 12-member board directors and three member credentials committee members
Members can choose to run for both Board of Directors and credentials committee
Active members will receive two separate ballots, one for Board of Directors and one for credentials committee, listing the respective slates of candidates
All ballots for office shall be ranked-choice ballots, the same as previously used in organizational voting
No member, except the president, can serve on both the board of directors and the credentials committee.