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Have This Friday Afternoon Meeting With Your Employees To Immediately Reduce Their Burnout And Increase Their Optimism

Employees, whether working from home or in a pandemic-remediated office, are feeling stressed, burned out and a bit (or a lot) pessimistic. But if you’re willing to conduct a Friday afternoon meeting with your team, you can quickly and significantly reduce some of that burnout and pessimism. And this meeting can be combined with ones that you’re already conducting.

Essentially, you’re going to ask each person on your team four questions. You’ll ask the first question and have everyone answer. Then you’ll ask the second question and have everyone provide an answer. And so on.

Here are the four questions you’re going to ask:

  • Question #1: Share an example of at least one success from this week.
  • Question #2: What was your biggest frustration from this week?
  • Question #3: What accomplishment are you most proud of from this week?
  • Question #4: What’s one lesson from your successes this week that you’re going to bring into next week?

Now let’s explore the science behind each of these questions (and why they’re so important).

The Science Behind Question #1: Share an example of at least one success from this week.

The point of this question is to increase your team’s optimism. You want them to consciously seek out something that was successful this week because when people are burned out, it’s natural for them to hone-in on negativity and failures rather than successes.

Optimism is associated with a wide variety of positive outcomes, including better mental and physical health, motivation, performance, and personal relationships. There are numerous studies on optimism that prove its benefits. In one study, doctors evaluated middle-aged patients scheduled to undergo coronary artery bypass surgery. Six months after surgery, researchers found that optimists were only half as likely as pessimists to require re-hospitalization.

In the study Employee Engagement Is Less Dependent On Managers Than You Think, involving 11,308 employees and managers, we discovered that only 13% of people have a high level of optimism, while nearly 33% of people have low or moderately low optimism. And perhaps the most striking finding about optimism was that highly optimistic people are 103% more inspired to give their best effort at work.

The Science Behind Question #2: What was your biggest frustration from this week?

Here’s a shocking statistic from one of my studies: In 42% of organizations, high performers are actually less engaged than high performers. Think about that for a moment: The employees who bring you the most value are often less engaged (satisfied, inspired, etc.) than the employees who reliably deliver the least value.

How does a high performer lose their engagement? There are lots of causes, from a lack of differentiation to picking up the slack for low performers. But regardless of the specifics, many high performers are frustrated with something (or someone) at work. And until you discover the source of those frustrations, you’re not going to solve them, which means your high performers’ frustrations are growing unchecked.

By asking this question in your meeting, not only will you, as the leader, discover previously hidden frustrations, but there’s a high likelihood that someone else on the team actually has a ready-made solution. And the only thing better than you eliminating employee frustrations is one of their colleagues doing it for you.

The Science Behind Question #3: What accomplishment are you most proud of from this week?

Although this question sounds similar to Question #1, it’s actually tapping into a different psychological characteristic. In Question #1, we wanted to hear about successes, regardless of how or why they occurred. But in Question #3, we’re focusing on accomplishments that each of our employees personally created.

The psychological characteristic we’re improving with this question is called locus of control. People with a high internal locus of control believe that they control their own success or failure; that success or failure is not the result of chance or fate. By contrast, having a low internal locus of control (also known as having an ‘external’ locus of control) would mean that one attributes success or failure to factors outside of their control.

Again from the study Employee Engagement Is Less Dependent On Managers Than You Think, only 17% of people have a high internal locus on control, while about 29% of people have low or moderately low internal locus of control. And people with a high internal locus of control are 136% happier with their career.

The Science Behind Question #4: What’s one lesson from your successes this week that you’re going to bring into next week?

In the final question we’re forcing our team to focus on how they’re going to use their successes from this week to create even more successes for next week. In this way, we’re building their self-efficacy.

People high in self-efficacy are confident in their ability to succeed and meet the challenges ahead of them. Although it seems similar to self-esteem, self-efficacy is quite a bit different. Self-esteem is the belief that we’re good as we are, whereas self-efficacy is the belief that we have the ability to successfully meet the challenges ahead (e.g. in our job, on the next project, etc.). And that belief is going to make a significant dent in your employees’ burnout.

Here’s the bottom line: If you’re willing to add a little more time and reflection to your Friday meetings, you’re going to find that your employees feel less frustrated, burned out and pessimistic. And that, in turn, is going to drastically increase their engagement and their performance.

July 2020, CICO writer: CICO  Staff Reporter Mark Murphy

Radical Plans Revealed By New Equality Campaign To Fight Racism In Fashion

Last Wednesday Teen Vogue Editor-in-Chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner and fashion publicist Sandrine Charles announced the launch of the Black in Fashion Council on Instagram with the aim to “represent and secure the advancement of black individuals in the fashion and beauty industry”. The initiative has been created in response to the lack of corporate action taken to tackle fashion’s inclusivity problem ― amidst the hundreds of brands posting for #BlackoutTuesday and black squares across Instagram totalling 20 million posts, stakeholders at major fashion and beauty brands are yet to announce corporate action that will promote long term accountability inside of their companies. The Black in Fashion Council is formed of a network of some of the most influential people in the business, including stylist Shiona Turini, GQ Deputy Fashion Director Nikki Ogunnaike and brand consultant Chrissy Rutherford.

Today, the initiative officially launches with a number of key strategies being put in place that are currently lacking from the fashion industry. A fundamental part of the council is their creation of formalised tools and traceable accountability methods for fashion industry stakeholders to practice within their businesses. From today, the BIFC are asking brands to take part in a three-year pledge for inclusion in which brands will receive tools for accountability and a yearly equality score, meaning the diversity of a company behind closed doors will be visible to all, creating transparency beyond the curated Instagram mission statement of recent weeks.

It’s a pioneering initiative for an industry that is having a moment of truth around it’s shameful lack of inclusivity. It’s a reckoning that’s palpable in Europe, where three of the biggest fashion capitals are located ― Milan, Paris and London. An important part of the BIFC is that it will bring together black fashion industry insiders from across the world to create change in these regions. “Black creatives in Europe will be empowered by the Black in Fashion Council’s work” says Milan-based Tamu McPherson, Editor-in-Chief of All the Pretty Birds. For McPherson, Milan is an essential place for the BIFC to be operating in. “The brands in Milan are huge advertisers and marketers” she says, “if you look at any magazine, the Italian brands probably occupy more advertising space than other brands, they hold a lot of influence. On the other hand, American publications and American talent and creators have a huge influence globally. And I feel that being here in Milan, the council can definitely set an example of how things can work for inclusion in the fashion industry as a whole.”.

An aim of the BIFC is to counter the armchair activism of #BlackoutTuesday with measurable accountability from fashion brands, small and large, creating transparency over inclusivity. It’s work McPherson has been doing for a while. “What’s been emerging in Milan recently is a conversation surrounding inclusivity coming from a generation of black and Afro Italians. It’s a movement that when I first came to the city 14 years ago, I didn’t see. It’s exciting, they’re using their voices to point out this inequity in the industry. The Black in Fashion Council will mobilise these voices further.”

June 2020, CICO writer: CICO  Staff Reporter Grace Banks

Racism Grows In Places Black People Cannot Reach: Margaret Ochieng’s Approach To Active Listening In The Work Place

The past few weeks have seen the news cycle shift from obsession with the global pandemic to a different kind of public health crisis. With the brutal murder of George Floyd a new awareness and burning desire to tackle injustices has surfaced. Protests have gone global and long overdue conversations about systemic racism are happening not only amongst activists but also in board rooms and between colleagues. As business leaders begin to confront this overwhelming subject, it is essential that we be solution focused and mindful of the emotional labor that this kind of work requires. In the conversation, I wanted to pass the mic to a black professional who can speak on this subject with authenticity and lived experience. I reached out to my esteemed colleague, Business Psychologist Margaret Ochieng, founder of the inclusion consultancy “The Inclusive Village,” for her thoughts. She did not disappoint, the following is her insight.

Margaret says;

People Are Waking Up

“While the world battles a global pandemic which continues to expose the cracks of racial inequalities on a global scale, many organisations have remained largely passive to the experiences of their non-white employees. Added to this are the unfolding displays of overtly racist, gut-wrenching and symbolic incidences of recent weeks, such as the “Amy Cooper (Karen) effect”. To many black people, Karen is the strangely familiar “cry wolf” who often paints a black person as an aggressive, dangerous, irrational being, because she has been rightfully challenged. In the hands of the “cry wolf”, many black people lose their reputation, freedom, jobs, too many times in organizations.  The “knee” is the discriminating, undermining experiences commonly faced by black people in the workplace and in society. It is the micro-aggressions, glass ceilings and glass cliffs, we are expected to navigate silently at work. It is the white saviour complex that often creeps in cross-racial formal and informal relationships otherwise meant to support black people in the workplace. It is the things we can’t say because we will be labelled too radical, angry and prickly, and therefore unsuitable for high profile or visible roles. And therefore, in the wake of the current protests, we see more and more people across races defying racial boundaries to call out racism. We see more emboldened black people coming forward to tell their stories, and a growing white majority, who finally want to listen. In addition to the protests, we see a new wave of organizers and activists, springing up, influencing and advocating within organizations and communities, educating and rebuking the systems and structures that have allowed racism to grow unchallenged for centuries.

Sitting In Discomfort

In organizations, there are increasing efforts or a desire to now listen to the experiences of black people, a great step towards enabling black voices to be heard. But with this step, also comes an anxiety, the anxiety that the spaces being created for black stories to be heard will not be psychologically safe enough. That is to say, that such spaces will be so poorly facilitated, riddled with stereotyping and passive listening, with no ground rules for engaging in meaningful dialogue. That the need to defend organizational reputation will trump the empathy required to sit with the discomfort many feel when talking about race. And that the conversations will not be framed around, tangible actions and long-term systemic change, leaving black people feeling like they have poured their hearts out, telling their stories for the mere entertainment of the white majority.

With this in mind, I decided to experiment with what a safe space for exploring black experiences will feel like. Such a space will enable black people to share their stories without the feeling that their stories don’t make a difference.  In an online forum on the 6th of June, bringing together a diverse group of people from different professional and social backgrounds, I used this provocative quote as the basis of facilitation “Racism grows in white spaces which black people cannot reach”. In this session, I wanted to address what is going to happen, when the protests die down, the hashtags begin to dwindle and we are no longer using the black screen avatars on our social media feeds. I saw the need to start steering people towards some practical actions and behaviour change. The first part of the workshop involved “speaking about race, where black voices were heard sharing their experiences and reflections following the recent events, as well as giving white participants an opportunity to reflect on their emerging perspectives, and what they are learning through this process. The second part of the workshop was centered around  stimulating practical action and behavior change. Each individual was given the opportunity to reflect on what this statement means to them personally “Racism grows in white spaces which black people cannot reach”.

Challenging White Spaces

Participants were to identify the spaces where they currently belong, and which black people cannot reach. Such spaces are predominantly white, where race conversations hardly ever take place, and black people or people of color are not present, or if they are, then their voices are not recognized or heard. Examples people have shared range from workplace teams, to voluntary committees to family dinners. The second task was to challenge the participants to articulate in what ways they observe, suspect or hear something potentially racist, or that could aid and abet racism in these spaces; from microaggressions, to discrimination, to silencing. And lastly, the participants were challenged to brainstorm on how they can influence or disrupt what is observed, heard or suspected in these spaces, for example, calling out a micro-aggression, challenging on why there are no people of color around the table? Or challenging the absence of black voices in the school curriculum as well as how the few voices present are portrayed, displaying black art in their homes, or reading books by black authors and discussing black role models with their children. In the workplace, further insights have emerged on who truly benefits from meaningful informal, but career enhancing relationships with powerful people in organizations, and who is left out in these conversations, especially as many organizations are thinking about restructures, and reorganizations. The absence of black people in the spaces where these conversations are happening formally or informally, stands to affect many black careers in the coming months. This experimental facilitation allows individuals to choose the where and how they would like to make a difference, selecting a few actions that they can take, in a non-prescriptive and flexible way.  And I am interested to see how individuals hold each other accountable and follow through with the actions they have committed to over the coming months.”

Centering Black Voices And Needs

Margaret’s words provide insight and a road map for business leaders wanting to take step forward. This is not a moment to engage in empty exercises of performative listening. We must not cherry pick the changes we make, and we cannot prioritize a desire to feel comfortable. Genuine systemic and long-term change can only come from active listening and the centering of black and minority ethnic voices in this much needed conversation. It is time for us all to do the hard work that brings meaningful change.

June 2020, CICO writer: CICO  Staff Reporter Nancy Doyle

Parent Involvement Has Always Mattered. Will The COVID-19 Pandemic Finally Make This The New Normal In K-12 Education?

“We need to get in touch with 100% of our families, make sure they have everything they need for their children to learn and give families whatever supports they need or this is just not going to work.”

Many principals and school system leaders across the country have echoed some version of this statement in the rapid shift to distance learning forced by the COVID-19 pandemic. But why did it take a global health crisis to get to this point? There are so many crucial equity questions in distance learning, but the importance of parent involvement in academic outcomes have never been in question. Yet, there are still so many issues about how and to what extent parents of all racial demographics and income levels are meaningfully included in school decision-making or asked to support their children’s academic success.

There is a powerful case for making meaning parental engagement a critical piece of what K-12 education looks like during and after this pandemic. To make this case and share powerful, but practical strategies to help educators overcome the challenging, but necessary difficulties needed to close this gap, Alejandro Gac-Artigas, the Founder and CEO of Springboard Collaborative provided his insight and expert advice from his experience leading this work for over a decade.

1) The COVID-19 pandemic raises awareness of lots of inequities that existed before this global crisis. And schools have moved mountains to ensure that students are still receiving access to meals and to the devices and connectivity they need to engage in distance learning. But the challenges involved in meaningfully and equitably involving parents in the academic success of their children is a huge issue that is still not necessarily a priority for school systems. Should our schools be doing more to support families in their role as parent educators?

It’s not a question of ought so much as necessity. Whether or not schools should be doing more to support families as educators is a moot point. Here’s the reality: The only way to prevent COVID-19 from deepening inequality for an entire generation of children is to equip families to support learning at home. This is especially true in the pivotal early grades, in which children’s learning requires frequent adult facilitation. As a former first-grade teacher, I can’t imagine how to round up 25 six-year-olds on Zoom and somehow make that time instructionally meaningful. Amidst school closures on a massive scale, there’s no going around low-income parents. We must work with them and through them, otherwise the achievement gap will continue to grow with every passing day of school closures.

My Instagram feed is inundated with images of financially stable friends and colleagues navigating the homeschooling experience by reading books together, practicing musical instruments, and doing math while trying a new recipe. These parents engage their children in thoughtful conversation as banana bread bakes, awaiting its turn in the social media spotlight.

In my professional life, as CEO of literacy nonprofit, I see low-income families navigating a starkly different set of circumstances. And while distributing WiFi-enabled devices is laudable, academic disparities aren’t widening because privileged kids have access to superior screen time. They’re widening because of all the things their parents are doing off screen.

Over the last decade, college-educated parents have quadrupled their investment of time and money in their children, while parents without a college degree have only modestly increased their investment. Experts describe this as a “parenting gap” that leads to a vicious cycle of intergenerational wealth inequality. What matters most in a child’s life is their family. Not their school, and certainly not their technology. Connections matter more than connectivity.

Schools—if only by necessity—must support families in their role as educators. Parents’ love for their children is the single greatest—and most underutilized—natural resource in education.

2) We read a lot about what parents lack, especially parents of color who live in poverty. Parental involvement is important, but how is it fair to ask these parents to do more? Especially since these are the same groups who are more likely to have less formal education while being more likely to be essential workers or be more directly impacted by the pandemic economically and health-wise?

We do read a lot about what low-income parents lack. Let’s consider, for a moment, the assets they bring to the table:

Parents are the experts on their children. Whereas teachers change annually, parents accumulate a wealth of knowledge about their children as learners. Moreover, they are uniquely positioned to read with their kids in a one-on-one setting. There is no smaller classroom than a family’s living room, and there is no better way to personalize instruction than through a parent. After all, what could be more personal that a parent and child sharing a book at bedtime?

Teachers, on the other hand, are the experts on instruction. They know what their students need to make progress, yet the classroom setting makes it difficult to individually support every child. Parents and teachers thus have complementary skill sets and a common purpose: to help kids learn and be successful. This is the basis for a powerful, sustainable collaboration!

To be sure, families living in poverty face intractable barriers that make it difficult to engage in their children’s education. The solution, however, can’t be to write parents off. Parents are, after all, the single biggest predictor of their children’s life outcomes. Low-income families don’t need the education system’s pity; they need its support. No one benefits from pobrecito syndromeor the soft bigotry of low expectations. Why doesn’t our society see in a laid off single mom the very same love, commitment,

and potential we so easily recognize in her wealthier counterpart?

It’s incumbent on our education system to create opportunities for family engagement that have greater value than there is difficulty taking advantage of them. Our experience at Springboard Collaborative has been that almost every family that perceives this value will go to lengths—some seemingly insurmountable—to support their children’s learning. Our weekly parent workshops average 91% attendance — and these are the families of over 10,000 struggling readers in 14 urban school districts. Families are invited on the basis of their children’s need for reading intervention. They have no obligation to attend workshops, and we don’t cut students whose families do not participate from either the program or the data set.

By offering low-income parents the skills required to support learning at home, we’re not asking of them anything that they don’t already want for themselves. Most of the families Springboard works with have learned the hard way just how important it is for their children to have a better educational experience than they did. Approximately one-third of the

parents we serve can’t read the book their child is holding, because of either a literacy or language barrier. Nevertheless, these parents help their children make a 3-month reading gainin just 5 weeks. How? By engaging their kids in dialogue, asking questions before, during, and after reading. Yes, even nonliterate parents with only 15 minutes to spare can help their kids learn to read. An analysis of nearly 10 million studentsfound that 15 minutes seems to be the “magic number” for substantial positive gains in reading achievement.

3) Improving parental capacity to support the academic success of their children sounds like a great idea in theory. But practically speaking, how is that supposed to work? It’s hard enough for teachers of students of color in low-income areas to improve learning outcomes. How can schools help parents do something they themselves have such a hard time doing?

As much as American society wishes school improvement were a panacea, it simply isn’t enough. The data bears this out. Fourth-grade literacy rates in the U.S. haven’t budged in 25 years—and the achievement gap is widening—despite billions invested in

classroom intervention.

Schools haven’t been able to move the needle independently, which is precisely why they must enlist families in the effort. Children don’t spend nearly enough time in school for teacher-led instruction to be a complete solution. Picture a child’s time as an orange. Their classroom experience—just 25% of waking hours—is a wedge from which the education field is fixated on squeezing more juice. Children spend 75% of their waking hours outside the classroom, yet our nation does shockingly little to capture educational value from this time in marginalized communities. In order to meaningfully improve learning outcomes, our education system must juice the rest of the orange by realizing the untapped teaching potential within families.

Parent-teacher collaboration is daunting, but it isn’t rocket science. At Springboard, we distilled our ‘secret sauce’ and open-sourced a methodology through which teachers and parents can join forces to help children reach learning goals in 5-10 weeks. We call this a Family-Educator Learning Accelerator (or FELA). In the beginning, teachers and parents build a

relationship, set a goal, and make a game plan together. Over 5-10 weeks, teachers and parents convene weekly or biweekly to share skills and support each other’s efforts. On a daily basis, children work toward their goal by practicing with their teachers, practicing with their families, and practicing independently. 15 minutes well spent can go a long way. The cycle concludes by measuring progress and celebrating together; it is neither amorphous nor interminable. Small wins lead to big wins, helping schools to crystallize new habits between teachers and families.

This simple and approachable framework produces remarkable results. Students average a 4-month reading gain during each 5-10 week cycle, closing the gap to grade-level performance by more than half. Parents learn how to be effective home literacy coaches, unlocking a world of one-on-one instruction that would be cost-prohibitive in the classroom setting. For every hour that a teacher leads a family workshop, parents deliver 25 hours of tutoring at home. What’s more, families build habits that persist long after programming has ended. Not just the habit of reading, but also the habit of setting and achieving goals with their children. Of course, this has implications far beyond literacy.

4) These sound like great ideas and it is impressive that your organization has been able to pull off those outcomes. In the short-term, what advice would you give a school system looking to leverage parents as academic partners in addressing the expected learning gaps resulting from the inherent inequities of distance learning?

If there’s a silver lining in the way that the COVID-19 pandemic brought schools to a grinding halt, it’s that it has provided us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reset the relationships between schools and low-income families. My advice to any school system is to help as many teachers as possible to set and achieve goals with families this summer. Springboard’s Family-Educator Learning Accelerator framework is open-source and freely available. Though we focus on literacy, the methodology can be applied to any subject area. This framework is the product of nearly a decade of trial and error. Districts can directly benefit from what Springboard has learned along the way:

  • FELAs are 5-10-week cycles during which teachers and parents share a game plan to help children reach learning goals. This process measurably improves academic outcomes while strengthening family-educator relationships.
  • Any shorter than five weeks isn’t long enough to build a habit; any longer than ten weeks, and you lose the immediacy and urgency required for teachers and parents to try something new together.
  • Relationships are foundational. The key to getting 90%+ parent turnout at weekly workshops is building relationships between teachers and families through [virtual] home visits at the outset.
  • Goal setting is the active ingredient in Springboard’s secret sauce. Goals makes the FELA purposeful and winnable.
  • During the 5-10 weeks, parents and teachers must practice together at least four times. Workshops—virtual or in-person—are vehicles for skill-sharing, teamwork, and mutual accountability.
  • Finally, the cycle concludes by measuring progress and celebrating. This crystallizes habits that persist over the long run.

If you’re a parent, check out Springboard Connect. It’s a free web-app that provides tips, resources, and reminders to support parents as reading coaches to their children. Families can set goals, practice strategies, and track progress.

If you’re a teacher, check out Springboard’s free FELA toolkit. It offers an overview of our family engagement methodology and provides templates to get you started. Springboard also teamed up with the American Federation of Teachers to offer free professional development.

If you’re a school or district leader, learn more about Springboard Learning Accelerator. You can think of it as the ‘starter pack’ for implementing our family engagement methodology—virtually and affordably—this summer and beyond.

5) Historically, we’ve thought about parental involvement as helping out with the school carnival or bake sale. In the big picture, what type of policy shifts need to happen to make a more sweeping, systemic, and sustainable change to the way we support parents as our children’s most important educators?

Once schools eventually reopen their doors, let’s not just reach for the familiar classroom interventions that have failed to produce outcomes for decades. Between now and then, we have a singular—and fleeting—opportunity to demonstrate the power of parent engagement to help children learn. If we do this on a large enough scale, we can fundamentally change the education system for the better and for good.

We must tackle this at multiple altitudes. From a policy perspective, I applaud the HEROES Act for proposing $5.5B toward closing the digital divide; however, this doesn’t go far enough. The potential of technology will never be fulfilled if we don’t simultaneously invest in realizing the teaching potential of their families. If every low-income student in America were supplied a WiFi-enabled tablet and we took every high-income

household off the grid, the achievement gap wouldn’t magically shrink. Our school system must upskill families—and teachers—to support learning at home. Congress should allocate meaningful use grants accordingly.

At the state and district level, schools should leverage the summer ahead to help teachers collaborate with families in order to set and achieve learning goals. We’ve open-sourced Springboard’s playbook to make this simple, approachable, and effective in just five weeks. As a sector, let’s not scramble to create the digital clone of a system that didn’t work in the first place. Let’s set aside the conventional playbook and build new habits between teachers and families.

Winston Churchill famously said, “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing… after they have tried everything else.” It’s time for the education sector to finally take a systematic and outcomes-oriented approach to helping parents—and their children—succeed.

June 2020, CICO writer: CICO  Staff Reporter Colin Seale

The Recording Academy Hires Its First-Ever Chief Diversity Officer

The Recording Academy has named Valeisha Butterfield Jones as its first chief diversity and inclusion officer. The appointment comes just months after the controversial and abrupt dismissalof former CEO Deborah Dugan over alleged misconduct. Butterfield Jones previously served as the global head of inclusion at Google for nearly five years and cofounded the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network. Earlier in her career, she served as a national youth vote director on President Barack Obama’s campaign and as the deputy director of public affairs for international trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce under the Obama Administration. She also held the executive director position at Rush Communications, which includes Def Jam Enterprises, Baby Phat, Phat Farm, and Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, and was the national director of diversity and inclusion for the Alzheimer’s Association.  In her new role, Butterfield Jones will be responsible for designing and implementing programs and industry standards focused on inclusion, belonging and representation for underrepresented communities and creators, according to the announcement. She will report directly to Academy chair and interim president and CEO Harvey Mason Jr.

“The Recording Academy has an opportunity and responsibility to ensure that diversity and inclusion is embedded in its core values,” Butterfield Jones said in a statement. “During this unprecedented time in world history, together we will double-down on our focus to drive systemic change and equitable outcomes for underrepresented communities and creators.”

Butterfield Jones’ appointment follows recommendations set forth by the Recording Academy’s diversity and inclusion task force, helmed by Time’s Up CEO and former chief of staff to Michelle Obama, Tina Tchen. The task force, which includes Grammy-winning artist Common and former BET CEO Debra Lee, was created in 2018 after former Academy president Neil Portnow said that female artists must “step up” if they want to be a part of the male-dominated winners’ circle at the Grammys.

“It’s imperative that the music industry continues to make strides toward a more equitable and inclusive industry,” Tchen said in a press release.”Creating this executive-level position was a principal recommendation of our Task Force because it is one significant way the Academy can demonstrate that issues of diversity are mission-critical and will be prioritized in the future.” Butterfield Jones starts her new role on May 11.

May 2020, CICO writer: CICO  Staff Reporter Ruth Umoh