Golden globes trophy hero

Culture Fail of the Month: The Golden Globes

The Golden Globes is a well-known awards show that recognizes outstanding achievement in motion pictures and television, and the second most popular behind the Academy Awards (also known as the Oscars). What most people don’t know, however, is that the Globes are determined by fewer than 90 international journalists, many of whom don’t even work full-time in the profession.

Recently the show has been subject to severe criticism for another issue that was previously not well known: not a single one of those journalists is Black.

In years past, the lack of diversity of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA)—which votes on and runs the awards—was overlooked and ignored. But a lawsuit by Norwegian entertainment journalist Kjersti Flaa, coupled with the snubbing of several high-profile films created by or starring Black filmmakers and actors, gave way to a series of unflattering exposés, citing corruption, self-dealing, and ethical lapses on the part of HFPA members. All in a year in which such films dominated other awards shows, including the Oscars.

Ironically, it was only after the HFPA announced planned reforms—its own culture renovation—that NBC cancelled the 2022 show.

To attempt to rectify the situation, the HFPA announced it would add 20 new members by August, with a focus on diversity, by the end of 2022. For NBC, that wasn’t fast enough, as it would mean another awards season with presumably few changes.

i4cp’s research, as highlighted in Culture Renovation, shows that this is exactly the kind of culture change initiative that tends to fail. Organizations that decide to change driven only by the result of a downturn in business—or in this case, terrible publicity—versus proactively changing culture to better perform in the future.

In the very first chapter, there is a section titled “Complacency breeds failure.” The Golden Globes, reveling in access to celebrities and the positive attention of studios and their PR firms willing to dole out millions of dollars to earn their votes (as has been reported extensively, the entertainment industry was complicit in turning a blind eye), epitomizes complacency. The HFPA had plenty of opportunities to recognize what was wrong internally and renovate its culture but, like many complacent organizations, refused to act until it was too late.

They also failed to scan the environment and sense what would happen in the future. Clearly, this was coming: The Oscars have been criticized for years for its disproportionate number of award nominees in categories comprised entirely of “old white males” year after year. And while they have been slow to effect change, they have at least committed to it publicly and spelled out the details of how they plan to change and the actions they will take. It may be late in coming, but it’s a step in the right direction.

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Kevin Oakes
Kevin is the CEO and co-founder of i4cp. He is a world-recognized thought leader on the topics of corporate culture, the future of work, and learning, and is the author of the bestselling book Culture Renovation: 18 Leadership Actions to Build an Unshakeable Company.