The moves stem from a major reorganization the Recording Academy began this summer when it streamlined into three divisions: the entertainment/consumer divisions (led by new COO Branden Chapman), the trade/industry group (led by label veteran Ruby Marchand) and organizations/cross verticals (led by CFO Wayne Zahner, chief diversity and inclusion officer Valeisha Butterfield Jones and chief people & culture officer Shonda Grant).
“We did our reorganization in July and as part of that, we really have been doing deep dives into all the verticals,” interim president/CEO Harvey Mason Jr. told Billboard Friday night. “There’s some new alignment [and] some crossover in different sections and because of that we wanted to make sure the skill sets in each of those verticals were being taken advantage of and we weren’t being duplicative on the jobs people were doing. These layoffs are based on our taking a thoughtful and hard look at the services and the things we can provide to our members and how we can continue to evolve and adapt and diversify the academy. “
Mason added that he did not expect any further layoffs.
Prior to the layoffs, the Recording Academy had 169 staffers. That does not include the 95 employees who work for the Latin Recording Academy, Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation, Grammy Museum and MusiCares. Of the 169, 60% were female, 46% were “diverse” and 55% were under 40, according to a Recording Academy virtual industry summit held Thursday.
Mason has put focus on increasing the academy’s diversity and inclusion numbers within the organization’s ranks and among its membership, including hiring Butterfield Jones, its first diversity and inclusion officer, in April.
“Within our staff, we have achieved gender parity,” Mason told Billboard during a September roundtable. “The executive committee is at 50-50. We have achieved age parity between those 40 and up and those 40 and under. The same for race: With minorities, we are now at parity within our staff.”
The move comes as the 63-year old academy heads into Grammy season with the 63rd Grammy Awards scheduled to take place Jan. 31, 2021 in Los Angeles.
Paul Grein and Colin Stutz assisted in preparing this story.