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New code of ethics to govern award giving and progress towards greater Board diversity announced at The Ivors Academy AGM

The Annual General Meeting of The Ivors Academy on 13th August saw a series of announcements to increase diversity on the Academy’s Board and create a new code of ethics and Ethics Committee to carefully review future and past award decision-making.

At the AGM it was announced that Paul Hartnoll and Stephen McNeff have stepped down from the Board ahead of elections in April 2021, to create space to increase diversity and representation. The Academy’s draft twelve-point Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan aims that as a minimum its Board and Committees will have a 50% gender balance, 30% Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic representation, and 10% creators with disabilities, involvement of a minimum of one person aged under 25 and avoidance of London-centric representation.

Crispin Hunt, Chair of The Ivors Academy said, “I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to Paul Hartnoll and Stephen McNeff. They have contributed enormously to the Academy’s success and we are indebted to them. I’m hopeful that both will stay involved to advise and advocate for the Academy.

“With the recent appointment of Hope Winter and Imogen Williams in a shared role as under-25 Directors, the Academy is making good progress towards having a Board that brings a fuller range of perspectives and experiences that represent our community of music creators, and drives us to be greater champions of equality. From September 2020 the number of Board Directors from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic heritage will increase three-fold to 20% overall. Our Board will be almost at gender parity, and we have representation of creators with disabilities and from under 25 year-old creators.

We are announcing today that our four Genre Committees will co-opt up to another two music creators to each Committee for the remaining term. They are encouraged to attract creators from diverse backgrounds to help us achieve gender parity, increase our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic representation, involve more members with disabilities and members from across the UK at all ages.”

Also, at the meeting it was announced that the Academy will establish an Ethics Committee and new code of ethics to review the Academy’s awards decision-making processes for the future and carefully examine past decisions. This announcement follows antisemitic comments by Wiley in July 2020, who received The Ivors Inspiration Award in 2019 for his music contributions to grime in the early 2000’s. The Academy condemned these comments when they were made, saying “We stand against all forms of intolerance. Such appalling views have no place in the music creator community.” It will now take further steps to establish the obligations of award winners and the process through which awards decisions applying to the future and past can be carefully reviewed.

A statement from The Ivors Academy Board said:

The Ivors Academy is a not-for-profit organisation formed of songwriters and composers. We have always been, and continue to be, proudly creator led. The breadth of our community gives weight and power to our campaigning, our awards and our industry. We are only successful if all are welcomed, feel safe, are supported, have a voice and are given the opportunity to fulfil their potential regardless of their background. Difference is good for society, embraced by the Academy and celebrated through our Awards.

For this reason, any statements of discrimination and intolerance made by Academy members or award winners affects us all, not just those who are targeted for prejudice or abuse. We adopt a generous and supportive outlook, fostering collaboration and growth, not division and hate. These are values our members must sign up to on joining our membership; they are also expectations we should have of our award winners in future.

The world is changing, and so is the Academy. We are part of the positive movement underway to address longstanding inequality, unfairness, prejudice, and injustice in society. This has been given heightened awareness from the death of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter and Covid-19. It extends to the music industry, where we have embraced the opportunity to campaign for fairer remuneration for our members and defence of their rights. We are taking action to become a more diverse, inclusive and relevant organisation so that we can better champion every creator, from every style and every background.

When we recognise individuals in our awards, we are giving them a high honour that comes with responsibilities for the recipient and for the Academy. We wish to codify these obligations going forward and are today announcing the establishment of an Ethics Committee which will review our award decisions in future, and carefully revisit how others have been treated in the past. Part of their work will be to review our current members’ codes of conduct and put in place an ethics framework to govern the giving and rescinding of honours and awards. We can only achieve consistency if we first establish solid guidelines that ensure an objective and robust approach. We intend to have the Ethics Committee formed and giving us guidance by November this year when the entries for next year’s awards begin to be received.

We have needed a framework for some time, but this is now made more urgent following the antisemitic comments made by Wiley last month. Wiley is not the first musician to make abhorrent comments or behave in a way that is counter to the Academy’s values. But as a recent recipient of The Ivors Inspiration Award, for his work establishing UK Grime, the Academy has needed to be clear that his antisemitic views were not known at the time we gave him this award. And these views should not be an inspiration to anyone.

Any member or interest group who wish to be notified of the progress of this Ethics Committee or provide input should email contact@ivorsacademy.com

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