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HFPA Members Approve Reform Bylaws; Board Election, Member Re-Accreditation and New Membership Drive Is Next

·7-min read

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has approved the new set of bylaws that had been proposed to reform the organization, recruit more diverse and inclusive members and address the ethics and accountability issues that have long swirled around the organization.

Most recently, the HFPA had approved new gift, travel and conflict of interest policies that forbade members to accept promotional materials or other gifts from studios, publicists, actors, directors or others. The group has also been working on new membership goals in light of the reveal, first reported last spring by the Los Angeles Times, that the HFPA had no Black members.

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Those charges of questionable practices and a lack of diverse membership led NBC to announce that it would not air the Golden Globes in 2022.

“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.”

NBC applauded the new bylaws, calling them a “positive step forward.”

“We’re encouraged by the passage of the amended bylaws,” NBC said in a statement. “This marks a positive step forward and signals the HFPA’s willingness to do the work necessary for meaningful change.”

The votes on the new bylaws were counted by Ernst & Young. The new bylaws will now lead to an election cycle for a new, expanded Board of Directors, including outside independent directors as well as a re-accreditation process for all existing members. The new Board of Directors will be elected by early September.

The HFPA, which hands out the Golden Globe Awards, has been under fire for months, following an initial exposé by the Times about both the small, insular organization’s questionable financial practices, as well as paltry record of diversity and representation (including an entire lack of Black members). The group has already released a framework for reform that includes measures to increase the number of people of color in its ranks. The org had already instituted new restrictions on gifts that the members could receive and payments for work on their committees.

Dick Clark Productions also supported the new changes.

“We applaud the adoption of new bylaws, and the important policy revisions over the last few months, as the HFPA strives for reform. We look forward to seeing continued urgency, dedication and positive change in order to create a more diverse, equitable, inclusive and transparent future,” Dick Clark Productions said in a statement. “As part of the passage of the bylaws, the HFPA has put out a call for new membership, which can be found at the org’s website. 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.”

“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 Helen Hoehne, HFPA vice president. “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.”

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.”

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.

Membership

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.

Ethics

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.

Governance

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

And here’s a timetable for what comes next for the HFPA:

Aug. 5: The current Board of Directors will set Initial Election Meeting, as required by the new bylaws.
Aug. 6: Members seeking re-accreditation can begin submitting materials to the credentials committee.
Week of Aug. 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 Aug. 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
Aug. 26 or Aug. 30: Due date for ballots for the election of Board of Directors and credentials committee to be returned to Ernst & Young
Aug. 27 or Aug. 31: Election results for new, expanded board and credentials committee announced
Aug. 30 or Sept. 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
Sept. 3 or Sept. 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.

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